PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Sutton Foster; Catching Up With the Broadway and "Bunheads" Star

By Kenneth Jones
08 Sep 2012


Kelly Bishop and Sutton Foster of "Bunheads."
Photo by Andrew Eccles

Did you know that the whimsical nature of the pilot would continue throughout the series — that your character, Michelle, would be navigating oddballs and absurd situations?
SF: [Laughs.] Well, that was set up from the pilot, really. So I kinda knew that was my role — to be the one surrounded by, sort of navigating, a bunch of weirdos. But it's such a fun world. And, Michelle — she's full of her own oddities, as well — but it's a really fun world to play in. It's fun to live in a world that's a little skewed. That's how "Gilmore" was. I was such a huge fan of "Gilmore," and so I knew, totally, that "Bunheads" would have that same sort of vibe.

Amy has said in interviews that "Bunheads" is about Michelle. She is at the center. That's the reveal of the series — it is very much us following you, though some people thought it would be more about you and the four girls in the dance class. That relationship is building slowly.
SF: Yeah, it is. I've actually read some interviews with Amy, as well, and she wanted it to feel organic, so that the relationship with the girls [would grow to] where we are right now. Definitely the first ten episodes are leading to Michelle [connecting]. Michelle is reluctant in many ways, but she is reluctant to form any type of bonds or roots or responsibility. She just wants to kind of flit about, but that's definitely where it's headed toward — the girls. They're just great young women, and they're getting more confident and stronger. I really feel like all of their stories, too, are building and we're going to be able to delve more into their characters in the next episodes.

Yeah. I listened to a really interesting podcast on featuring three women critics who were loving the un-usualness of the series. One of them said that the entire season, in a way, feels like a extended pilot — a kind of set up — and you never know where it's going. And that that is the strength of it. At the climax of the first ten episodes, it now feels like we are about to jump into whatever the next chapter is — which is clearly a deeper relationship between these characters. It's so un-network and un-TV-like to build so slowly
SF: Yeah. I do feel that the show isn't really following any rules, which I think is a good thing. I'm proud of that. It might seem like nothing has happened, but so much has happened in those ten episodes. I'm thrilled that people are responding to it and have so many different thoughts about it, and I'm proud to be a part of it. I feel so proud of the show.

Amy is shaping it around you. Does she draw from stuff in your show-business life? Does she draw from your life as a performing artist?
SF: I guess. I actually have a lot of similarities with Michelle. The line between Sutton and Michelle [blurs]. Michelle has a lot of my same sensibility and sense of humor. One of the writers wrote a line — I think it was in episode eight — the line was, "Victory!" or something like that, and I went, "I don't know how you want me to do it." And he said, "I wrote it because I felt like it was something you would say!" And, I went, "Oh! How do I do it?" [Laughs.] The more they get to know me — Sutton — they begin to write and sort of tailor toward my sensibility and sense of humor. Obviously, Michelle being a dancer and an artist, [Amy is] writing a lot of opportunities for me to sing and dance and tackle the trials and tribulations of being an artist. And, that, of course, I know firsthand.