She shared that story from center stage at Carnegie Friday night, as she opened her solo concert debut there, five days before her 40th birthday.
Foster was aided in her effort by special guests Joshua Henry (her co-star in last year’s Violet), Megan McGinnis (who played her sister in Little Women) and the entire 70-piece New York Pops, conducted by the bouncy Steven Reineke.
Shout-Out To Mom Recalling how one of her mother’s favorite recordings was “John Denver’s Greatest Hits,” played on an old eight-track tape (the source of some funny interplay with a young audience member), Foster sang a soft version of “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” dedicated to her mom, who died in 2014.
Harmony Foster and guest Megan McGinnis sang long sustained harmonies on Craig Carnelia’s “Flight.” After the song Foster started to leave the stage, and McGinnis said innocently, “Are you going leave me out here alone…in Carnegie Hall…with the New York Pops?” Foster replied, “Don’t worry; they’re nice.” McGinnis then limned a solo performance of “Neverland” from Peter Pan.
Tap Duet Foster came out with her cell phone, pretending to be watching an old movie clip of tap dancing. She graciously tried to share the 2x2-inch image with the 2804-seat house. But she then called upon guest star Joshua Henry to recreate the elegant tap number, “Fit as a Fiddle (and Ready for Love)” with choreography by Michelle Elkin. Henry also got a solo singing moment to shine on “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Sutton’s Turn Foster informed the audience that in light of the fact that her 40th birthday will arrive March 18, it was time for her to move away from the spunky ingénue roles of her past and prepare for more mature parts. The orchestra then played the quivery opening notes of the iconic “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, leading to an unprogrammed version that stopped the show. Foster buried her face in her hands at the ovation. In the silence after it ended, one audience member shouted, “Do it again!”
Fans Join In: Foster flashed her trademark toothy grin when the audience demanded an encore after her climactic performance of Sondheim’s “Being Alive.” When she arrived back at center stage, a group of audience members spontaneously began singing “Happy Birthday To You,” and the rest of the crowd joined in.
The Encore: Foster rewarded them with with “Gimme Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie that built slowly from a quiet, conversational tone to a full-out belt on “Gimme that thing called love,” with her arms outspread and her fingers splayed. The audience obliged.