Review: ‘Sutton Foster’

On the heels of her three-year run as the star of "Thoroughly Modern Millie," for which she won a Tony, Sutton Foster offered an appealing mix of showtunes and contemporary folk. The Broadway baby, in the first of two hourlong performances, drew a sizable retinue of teenage girls who were clearly devoted fans of flapper Millie Dillmount.

In her sold-out concert debut at Lincoln Center’s Kaufman Penthouse, Sutton Foster displayed a cool, clear, sweet soprano voice that harbored a capacity to let loose and belt in the best Broadway tradition. On the heels of her three-year run as the star of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” for which she won a Tony, Foster offered an appealing mix of showtunes and contemporary folk. The Broadway baby, in the first of two hourlong performances, drew a sizable retinue of teenage girls who were clearly devoted fans of flapper Millie Dillmount.

“My Romance,” a supple romantic declaration by Rodgers & Hart, was comfortably united with “Danglin,’ ” a song that made its debut on PS Classic CD “The Maury Yeston Songbook.” A Gotham underground experience concerning the rescue of a puppy (or was it a furry wig?) on the subway tracks was related in Christine Lavin’s witty account “Waiting for the B Train.”

Foster tosses in an audacious audition piece, the brassy Rodgers & Hammerstein title song “Oklahoma!,” a tune most cabaret performers would leave buried in the piano bench. But here Foster lets the aud know she harbors a Mermanesque holla within.

It’s been a decade since Foster was a member of the chorus in “The Will Rogers Follies,” and her luck changed considerably at the La Jolla Playhouse when she stepped in for the ailing lead player in “Millie.”

She relates a great backstage tale: Seems that “S’posin,’ ” a 1929 tune with lyrics by Andy Razaf, was to be sung by Millie’s beau Jimmy as he perched on a skyscraper ledge. Apparently the composer’s estate managers put a damper on the song’s use while the show was out of town, and its replacement tune, built on the same chord structure and original orchestration, was “Say That.” That song ultimately was cut from the show as well, but Foster’s medley provides an interesting showbiz tidbit.

Foster’s most plaintive moment was “Come the Wild, Wild Weather,” a lovely Noel Coward reverie from “Waiting in the Wings” that carries a kind of “September Song” sentiment.

Foster’s up next as Jo March in a forthcoming musicalization of “Little Women” and it appears she has an eager built-in audience of “Millie” fans waiting for her.

Sutton Foster

Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, Lincoln Center; 250 capacity; $45

Production

A presentation of the Lincoln Center American Songbook series. Reviewed May 15, 2004.

Cast

Musicians: Michael Rafter, Kevin Kuhn, Leo Huppert, John Clancy.
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