Foster (in her new show at the Café Carlyle) busts out a binder labeled "The Big Book of High Belt Songs," which includes tunes that would make even the greatest of singers shake in their boots (or, as it were, high heels). Tunes in the BBHBS include “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “Defying Gravity” and “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going.” (Upon stumbling on that one she mumbles, “Yeah, 'cause when you think of Sutton Foster…”)
To help her choose which one of these big, brassy, belty numbers she should attempt, Foster called up her upcoming Trust co-star, Zach Braff, to sift through her “Ho” cup (i.e. opposite of a Pimp cup) which contained the titles of songs in the BBHBS. (Never thought I’d hear the word “ho” uttered from the stage at the Carlyle, but never mind that.)
Rummaging through the Ho cup, Braff eventually found one he liked: “Defying Gravity.” Foster shot him a dirty look. “What?" he said. "I like that song!"
Foster took a few deep breaths, warned everyone in the snug Café Carlyle to “back it up!” and proceeded with the Stephen Schwartz show-stopper, and, well, she gave every Elphaba that ever flew high above the Gershwin stage a run for their money.
Foster also told a great story about the evolution of a song from her Tony-winning turn as Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Turns out that a first draft of the show included the Paul Dennifer/Andy Razaf song from the '20s called “S’posin’.” A perfectly lovely song that would have made it to Millie’s debut at the La Jolla Playhouse, had the estate of the aforementioned songwriters not issued a cease and desist order. Ouch.
So, just a few days before opening, Millie’s songwriting team, Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan, locked themselves up in a hotel room to pull an all-nighter and replace the now banned “S’posin’.” After a few hours, “S’posin’” morphed into “Say That.” Soon after all that, "Say That” was dropped before it made it to Broadway. She sang them both at the Carlyle.
Other highlights include The Beatles' tune “Here, There and Everywhere,” which features Foster and Kevin Kuhn on banjo, Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle” and the tearjerker “My Heart Was Set On You,” a tune by Jeff Blumenkrantz. It went a little something like this:
“My mother told me to break up with you… A psychic swore you weren't the one for me…My roommate begged me not to be with you... In spite of all their warnings/I just knew you were a solid bet. It was terrible to face them when it all fell apart… yet there they were to catch the pieces of my breaking heart/with the grace not to say, ?I told you so.”
Cue the waterworks...thanks a lot, Sutton Foster. Good thing I was wearing waterproof mascara.
Through June 26, The Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street at Madison Ave., call 212-744-1600 or visit www.thecarlyle.com.
Click here to view more photos from Sutton Foster's debut at the Carlyle.
[caption id="attachment_2454" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="photo by Joseph Marzullo"][/caption]