There aren’t many more compelling Broadway stories than Sutton Foster’s meteoric rise to stardom. After having some success in ensemble roles in Broadway productions and some leading roles in touring productions, she found herself in the chorus of the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie”- a new show about to open on the Great White Way. After original star Kristin Chenoweth dropped out of the show, Foster was promoted to the lead- many rave reviews and a Tony award followed, and a star was born.
Foster continued to have Broadway success – in the seventeen years since she took the stage as Millie Dillmount, she has headlined multiple other Broadway shows and has garnered 5 more Tony nominations and 1 win for her winning turn as Reno Sweeney in the 2011 revival of “Anything Goes.” She has also branched out into television, appearing on Darren Star’s popular TV Land series “Younger” for the past 5 years.
The simple accompaniments and intimate venue were excellent – they allowed Foster’s vocals and bubbly personality to shine.
Before she heads back to Broadway opposite Hugh Jackman next year as Marian the librarian in the latest revival of “The Music Man,” she came to the Barns at Wolf Trap to sing a few favorites. Luckily for the Broadway fans of the DMV, she did not disappoint.
Foster kicked off the show with a song that seemed to encapsulate a lot of the spirit of her performance style, “A C**k-eyed Optimist,” from the show “South Pacific.” For her three performances at the Vienna, Virginia venue, it was just Foster and her music director, Michael Rafter, on piano. The simple accompaniments and intimate venue were excellent- they allowed Foster’s vocals and bubbly personality to shine.
A highlight of this performance was the medleys arranged by Rafter that brought together some themes in Foster’s performance. The first highlighted some of her time on Broadway, combining “Not for the Life of Me,” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” the “Star to Be” solo from “NYC” in “Annie,” and “Astonishing” from her turn as literary heroine Jo March in the musical adaptation of “Little Women.” She also did a lovely mash-up of “If They Could See Me Now” from “Sweet Charity,” and “I Get a Kick Out of You,” from “Anything Goes.” She did another medley of Cole Porter songs, complete with a comedic and winning rendition of a rarely performed Porter number “Don’t Look at Me That Way.”
In addition to her soaring vocals, the audience also got to experience Foster’s comedic chops and charm, complete with the best piece of advice that she has ever received: “say yes.” She detailed how opportunity leads to opportunity, especially for her, and how taking a chance so often pays off. She also paid tribute to her high school drama teacher, who had inspired her and helped her realize her dreams, and her daughter, “who opened rooms in her heart that she didn’t even know were there.” She also honored her mother, who passed away several years ago, with a performance of John Denver’s “Sunshine On My Shoulders.” It was beautiful and touching- a fitting tribute.
She wrapped up the show with another great mashup of “Anyone Can Whistle,” from the show of the same name, and “Being Alive” from “Company.” She finished her set, but the audience was on its feet and called for one more song. She graciously obliged, and did a lovely version of “On My Way to You.” The show was a real treat for Broadway fans, and Foster sounds just as amazing live as she does in recordings. It might be hard with another season of Younger on the horizon and her upcoming Broadway engagement, but hopefully, she’ll find her way back to the DMV soon.
While Sutton Foster’s engagement at the Wolf Trap Barns has concluded, Broadway fans need not fret. John Lloyd Young, best known for playing Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys” will be at the Barns to share more Broadway favorites early next year. For more information on tickets, click here.