ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Catching Up With Sutton Foster and Vocal Classes With Tina Fey

By Seth Rudetsky
08 Jul 2013

Joel Grey and Sutton Foster in Anything Goes.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Sutton also talked about the struggle she had with the role of Reno Sweeney. Reno is not like Sutton; Reno's very confident and when she walks in a room, she wants everyone to notice her, whereas Sutton is very goofy and wants to blend in at first (except when she wears foam shoes). When Sutton began previews for Anything Goes she knew her performance wasn't what it should be and she brought in an acting coach (Larry Moss). One of the best pieces of advice he had for her was regarding the first scene, which leads into, "I Get a Kick Out Of You." She was walking on with the subtext of, "I know I'm not really right for this role. Sorry!" He told her to walk onstage with the same feeling she would have right after "Blow Gabriel Blow," her big Act Two number. She was able to conjure up that feeling of confidence/sass and enter with it and then the rest of the show was easier to do. Cut to: second Tony Award.

The other role she struggled with was playing a dominatrix in Trust Off-Broadway. She met with an actual dominatrix (!) and, even though she felt the part was vastly different from her, she was able to identify with the feeling of wanting power and control. In order to see what it was like to be really controlling and powerful, she would practice on...her dog. She then demonstrated what she'd do. Suffice it to say, I've never heard a sexier version of, "Sit!"

On SiriusXM, I did an hour interview with Tina Fey and her husband Jeff Richmond. I'd heard from Kerry Butler that Tina and Jeff listen to my radio show and were fans of it. Then I got an e-mail from Tina a few weeks asking for a "favor." She wrote, "Why should you do me a favor when I've never done one for you? Don't over think it!" She asked me if I'd help her for an audition. I was free that afternoon, and I'm an enormous fan of hers, so I said for shizzle! But first, I had to put aside the part of me that's devastated I'll never get to be on "30 Rock." I went in for so many different parts but never got cast. I decided to let it goand went to get meet her at her office. She quickly explained why she wanted me to coach her for this musical audition and not her husband (he's a musician that wrote all the music for "30 Rock"). Turns out, he started working with her in the morning and as soon as she started singing he said, "What was that?!"

Tina explained that she was going in for a role because "her bluff was called." She heard they were doing a film version of Into The Woods and she asked her agent if the role of the Baker's Wife was cast. Suddenly her agent called back and said "I've set up an audition for you." Busted! Tina decided to go in but she was so nervous. She told me that the only reason why she felt she could do it is because they can electronically manipulate a voice in a movie. I started working with her and she was great. She wouldn't need any manipulation. First of all, great acting and second of all, a really pretty voice!