This past Saturday, producer Mark Cortale brought to the Lupin Theater stage a concert featuring the Tony Award winning, triple threat, ABC Family Bunheads actress Sutton Foster with Broadway pianist and Sirius XM radio star Seth Rudetsky. The concert was the second in the Broadway series to be held at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts this Spring. Much like the first concert in the series featuring Patti LuPone, the performance was a mixture of talk and music. Rudetsky and Foster discussed the actress' theatrical experiences and allowed their conversations to lead them into each song. The pair addressed topics including Foster's theater experiences, as well as college and even some of her special talents.
Most impressive about the evening was learning how Foster landed in show business. Her first theatrical experience was when she was cast as Annie in a summer theatre program where she grew up in Augusta, GA. When she was 17-years-old and still in high school, she attended an open casting call for the national tour of THE Will Rogers FOLLIES. She was chosen to go to a final audition, which took place on the stage of the Palace Theater in New York City. She was cast on the spot and toured with the production during her senior year while she finished her classes via correspondence. After high school, she attended Carnegie Mellon University for one year. She decided that she was not quite ready for college and moved to Tennessee, her parents' new home, and worked as a waitress.
During this time in her life, she visited her brother, Broadway actor Hunter Foster, in New York and attended an open call for the national tour of GREASE. Again, she was cast on the spot. She eventually made her Broadway debut in GREASE while her brother was in the show. During her very first curtain call on Broadway, she was able to stand next to Hunter, which made for a very special moment. In a funny anecdote, Foster explained that while she was an understudy for Sandy and her brother was Danny, there was a situation one night when they were asked if they could play opposite each other. For obvious reasons they declined. Foster's Broadway career has grown to be larger than life since her debut.
Two of Foster's traits that shined through during this performance are her humility and her true love of her job. These were made clear when she explained that she turned down an offer for a long-term run on Broadway as Eponine in LES MISERABLES to pursue a chorus role in an out of town production of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLE. She made this decision because she had been playing Eponine for a while on the show's national tour, and 'MILLE' offered her something fresh and new. Shockingly, Foster admitted that she would gladly take another chorus role if it meant she would be a part of a show she truly believed in and enjoyed. She eventually landed the lead role in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLE when the previous actress became sick and decided to leave. 'MILLIE' was taken to Broadway and Foster won her first Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Her second Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical was for her run as Reno Sweeny in ANYTHING GOES.
Throughout the course of the evening, the audience learned of some of Foster's talents and interests. During her spare time, she enjoys crocheting and drinking hot water with honey, proving herself an old soul. She also graced the audience with her velociraptor impression, which is how she entertained her fellow LES MISERABLES cast members, so to speak. Foster also quickly learned how to do a one-handed cartwheel as a result of ironically breaking her wrist while rehearsing "Accident Waiting to Happen" from THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, and being bound by a cast.
The evening's set list included:
Someone Else's Story
On My Own
I Get A Kick Out Of You
You're the Top
I'm the Greatest Star
Coming up next in the Broadway at NOCCA series is Megan Mullally. There will be two performances on April 6th at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. For tickets and other information visit www.broadwaynola.com.