ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Catching Up With Sutton Foster and Vocal Classes With Tina Fey
08 Jul 2013
Photo by Laura Marie Duncan
A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.
To quote Stephen Sondheim, "It's hot up here." I am on the deck of the Anchor Inn in Provincetown, just like I was last week when I wrote my column. Still beautiful, but now 15 degrees hotter. Holy cow! Houses on the Cape didn't even used to have air conditioners because it never got hot enough to use one. Now, all I want to do is strap a 8000 BTU Freidrich to my head.
I'm here for my second concert of "Broadway at the Art House." I'm doing a show with not one but two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster! Speaking of the Tony Awards, Sutton recalled watching them when she was a kid and hoping to win one. When she heard the opening number on this year's Tony Awards with the part about the actors onstage being just like the kids today watching the show at home, she totally bawled. Sutton actually used to practice her Tony award speech when she was a teen and dedicate her triumphant Tony win to her classmates. Mind you, not the children who believed in her and inspired her...specifically, to the girl who tied her to a bus seat and the boy who called her dog-face. However, during her two Tony speeches, she wound up not giving them her well-practiced shout-out. There's always the next speech.
When she was young, Sutton was completely obsessed with Patti LuPone and idolized her. Sutton thinks it's so weird because she knows some young people look up to her like she looked up to Patti but, "I don't know sh*t." Then she added that maybe the whole time she was looking up to Patti, "Patti didn't know sh*t." That's the surreal thing for her about winning; she would watch those people onstage at the Tony Awards and suddenly she was one of them, but she's the same person she always was.
As a matter of fact, the one thing she was focusing on when she won the first time was to not trip; her dress was long and she concentrated extra hard on not falling while walking to the stage. Speaking of clothes, Sutton recalled auditioning for the role of "star-to-be" for the 90's revival of Annie wearing a crazy dress, foam shoes with Velcro laces (?) and singing the title song from Oklahoma! She didn't have a headshot or resume. And this wasn't her first audition nor her first job. She had already done the national tour of The Will Rogers Follies and played Sandy in Grease on Broadway. Her headshot and resume were packed in a box somewhere so she didn't bring it. After she sang, there was an akward pause...then they told her to come back but, get a different dress/shoes, sing a different song and bring a headshot and resume. Naturally, she immediately got her photos done...at Woolworths. That's right, she went to the high-end photo area of Woolworths and came back to the audition with a crazy 3x5 shot of herself and, since she didn't have a computer and apparently they were none to be found in the entire of city of New York, she also brought along a resume that was handwritten. Cut to: She got the part. Listen!
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.