“It was a top five career experience,” Sutton Foster tells Playbill unequivocally.
The star who earned her big break as Thoroughly Modern Millie isn’t talking about that Tony-winning Broadway performance or her second win as Reno Sweeney in the 2011 revival of Anything Goes, or any of the incredible roles she’s originated on Broadway—from Jo in Little Women to Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone. (Though, to be fair, she didn’t say those weren’t in her top five.) But in this instance, Foster refers to her stint as The Baker’s Wife in this past summer’s Into the Woods at the Hollywood Bowl. “The really, really special ones last three shows,” she says with a laugh.
And this year, Foster decided to spend the full summer in California with her husband, Ted, her daughter, Emily, and her two dogs, Mabel and Brody.
Like many in the Broadway community, Foster adopted her pups—and with the help of Broadway animal trainer Bill Berloni. At the time, Foster was in tech for Violet and Mabel was a ”dressing room dog.” “She got her courage at Violet,” says Foster of the dog she rescued from a kill shelter. “She wouldn’t cross the hall, where the boys were, and the day she cross the hall the boys were like, ‘Yay baby girl.’”
Since then, Mabel has also been a staple on the Younger set, where Foster stars as Liza Miller. The Tony winner doesn’t know if she’ll be bringing her to her upcoming Broadway gig at The Music Man. “That’s just what we need in the middle of Music Man, you hear a dog barking,” Foster jokes.
Here, Foster reveals the work she’s been doing on Marian Paroo prior to The Music Man’s Broadway bow, what she hopes for Younger Season 7, and more.
Was Marian on your wish list?
It wasn’t, because she is such a classic soprano role, but that’s also what made her exciting to me. The challenge of bringing something new to Marian. I think we do think of Marian as a certain way and I’m always looking for the left turn or the challenge at this point in my career. To be honest, when they started talking to me about it my first reaction was like, “Wait a minute, there might be something interesting here.” There might be an opportunity—not to reinvent her—but just bring something new to her.
Have you met with Hugh Jackman yet?
In January this year I was with the team and sang through all the material. I didn’t know if I could do it. So it was a really interesting process of coming to it. I thought the same way when I got Reno Sweeney. It felt scary and terrifying. But then the more I think about it, the more I read the script, I was like, ‘Oh no, she’s feisty, she’s outspoken.” There’s so much going on with Marian I’m really looking forward. She’s complicated. I’m excited to be able to play her. We’re actually going to be doing a couple labs, like a lab in September and then there’s another lab in February. I’m thrilled the team wants to go back into the show. My approach always is—I did this with Anything Goes, too—is, yes, this is obviously a show that has so much history, but I like to approach it as if it’s never been done before. Because the shoes are too big to fill. I can’t step into Barbara Cook, Shirley Jones. So how do I find my way into this? I’m excited, I’m terrified but excited.
You're still in the midst of Younger, coming up on Season 7. We talk a lot about will Liza choose Charles or Josh? But I want to know what you think Liza’s end game is. What is her hope for herself?
I think her main priority has always been her career and reclaiming herself. She’s grown so much and, especially this season, the secret is out. She can be her most authentic self this season. But I also think it’s bringing up a lot of complications. So I don’t know what her end game will be. I don’t see her walking off into the sunset with anybody except herself, or maybe she and Kelsey or Diana starting their own company or something. I don’t even know if the writers know exactly where it’s all going to end up. I can’t believe we’re heading into Season 7.
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