By Kristi Kates
Actress, singer, dancer, and Broadway conqueress Sutton Foster may have been raised in Troy, Michigan, but it didnt take long for this ambitious talent to find her way to Broadway.
She actually left Troy High School early (snagging her degree via correspondence courses) to join a national musical tour - and it was goodbye, Michigan, and all about the big stage and the Great White Way from that point on.
After a few false starts in the form of auditioning for The Mickey Mouse Club and as a contestant on the Ed McMahon-helmed American Idol talent show precursor Star Search, Foster found herself in her first Broadway role, as the lead role of Sandy in the musical Grease in 1996. She quickly followed with a trio of other well-known Broadway plays - The Scarlet Pimpernel, Annie, and Les Miserables, in which she alternated between lead and support spots.
In her first big Broadway role - which she took over from former lead Erin Dilly in Thoroughly Modern Millie - the New York Post called her cutely agreeable; Newsday compared her to a young Carol Burnett; and Time Magazine said that she had Broadway brass and the lungs to go with it. Small wonder, then, that Foster would win the 2002 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical - but that was only the beginning.
PUPPETS TO PRINCESSES
Following her time in ...Millie, Foster wound down a little, spending the next three years working onstage and on screen through a variety of smaller Broadway shows and a couple of television productions (puppet show Johnny and the Sprites, and the HBO comedy series Flight of the Conchords.)
But it was a big green ogre that would put her back on the Broadway map.
In 2008, Foster took on the cartoon-to-real-life role of Princess Fiona - that same big green ogres girlfriend - in Shrek the Musical, which opened in December of that year and ran until January, 2010. The fractured fairy tale would see Foster nominated for her fourth Tony Award. And then the musical side of things began to take more precedence in her career.
ENSEMBLE TO SOLO
Now signed to Ghostlight Records, Fosters debut solo album, Wish, was released last year, on which she sings a variety of songs on her own this time around. There are Broadway numbers, of course, but also jazz, pop, and a little cabaret music. Following the release of her album and the subsequent supporting tour, she stepped into yet another real-life role - this one as a teacher at NYUs New Studio, where shell be teaching master class sessions and performing workshops for students in the Department of Theater and Dance.
Fosters diverse talent is being showcased in her live show dates, which will include a stop at Traverse Citys Opera House. Wth musical direction by Michael Rafter, Foster will perform Broadway songs plus music from her debut CD; and dont worry if youre not necessarily a fan of musicals, as Fosters vocals lend themselves to a wide genre of songs.
Sutton Foster will be appearing at the City Opera House in Traverse City on Thursday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35/$20, and available at www.cityoperahouse.org or telephone 231-941-8082.