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

By Kenneth Jones
08 Sep 2012


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Can you tell me about your concerts coming up? You're doing small gigs like trios and piano-and-voice?
SF: Yeah. Piano and voice and some trio [dates] — bass and guitar, piano. A eight different cities until the end of the year. I'm excited; I haven't been singing, really, since I've been out here. I think [musical director] Michael Rafter and I are sort of heading toward working on a new album. The best way for us to kind of try out new material is to do it live. We're going all over. We're in Omaha, and then we're going to Tokyo, which I've never been, Virginia, Galveston and Palm Desert, Costa Mesa, Miami, Santa Fe. But I'll be doing the concerts while in production with "Bunheads," so it will be a little hard. On my weekends, I'll be getting on the plane, but it will be good to do both again. I miss performing live, so it will be fun to do that.

Will the concerts include stuff from your albums, plus new stuff?
SF: Yeah. We're doing a lot of the stuff from the albums — from "Wish" and from the Carlyle album — and then we have about six or seven new songs that we're throwing in, and we'll see. We'll see what works and what doesn't, and then we'll just start heading toward laying down a new album. I don't know when, but maybe over the next year, which would be really cool.

Does Michael pitch you a lot of songs or do you bring a lot of songs to the table?
SF: We kind of do it half and half. Our director is Mark Waldrop, and he also brings stuff into the mix. So between the three of us, it's like a total collaboration. And, I've just been listening to a lot of Pandora. [Laughs.] So as I'm driving around L.A., I put on Lena Horne Pandora, and I get a lot of ideas that way. A lot of that I've never heard of — or I'll just write things down and shoot them off to Michael and see what he thinks. He brought a bunch of great new things the last time we worked, so it's just total collaboration.

Michael introduced you to Noel Coward's "Come the Wild, Wild Weather," right?
SF: Yeah.

Which is one of my favorite songs this year, and I heard it for the first time on your albums. I love that song.
SF: I do, too.

Any chance your concert will be done in New York?
SF: I hope so. That's a goal for when we wrap. We'll finish filming in January, so that would be something really fun to do on a hiatus — to come back and play the Carlyle. I'd love to play the Carlyle again or come back to New York in that way. That would be really, really cool.

And an album would result, we hope?
SF: Yes, that would be really, really, really great. I feel like we've been waiting for a while. We started trying to work before, during Anything Goes and before I left to do "Bunheads." Michael and I were meeting, and we were trying to toss around ideas, but it felt forced. It didn't feel like the right time, but we've come up with some really, really cool stuff in the last couple weeks, so I really feel like we're heading toward something.

Foster on "Bunheads."
photo by ABC Family/ Adam Larkey

This summer, after months of shooting, you've been decompressing? Are you just crashing?
SF: I'm trying! It's weird to have leisure — to have time off. I'm not used to it. [Laughs.] I've gone on a couple of trips. I went up to Napa, I went to Santa Barbara, I've been spending time with friends, and I'm going to come back to New York to prepare for the concerts. From there, I think I'll be primarily in New York over the next month — six weeks — or so. But it's been good. It's been nice to have free time. It's weird, though! I'm not used to it. [Laughs.] I'm so used to just working all the time! I know! High-class problems! But it's been really, really good.

Do you still have your place upstate?
SF: I do.

Are you going up there?
SF: I am. I think when I'm back in New York, I'm going to live there and just commute into the city because it's only about an hour away, so I'll be able to have a little bit of lake life and then come into the city when I need to.

Before I let you go, give me a sense of what Amy Sherman-Palladino is like.
SF: She's indescribable. She's singular. I think she's a genius. If she would have me, I would work with her forever for the rest of my life. [Laughs.] I feel so lucky that we met and that we found each other.

Is she as funny in real life as she is on the page?
SF: Yes, she is. That's her. Her writing is her, so it's kind of cool. She's that smart and that witty in real life. She's a lot of fun to be around. She's very passionate about what she does and very, very hands-on, which is exciting. She's in charge. This is her show. She's there every single day. It's cool to be a part of something like that, where there's such a clear voice. The dialogue itself is its own character. It's all her. It's her.

Have you had time to be social with her or is it not that kind of relationship?
SF: We've become friends. My brain kind of like explodes because I was such a fan of "Gilmore," and I've been such a fan of hers for so long. But we've gone out. She's been taking me to all her favorite places in L.A. She and her husband, Daniel, who is also one of the writers on the show, they're just awesome. We've hung out quite a bit, so it's been really fun.

There's such a consistent sense of authorship — of voice — on the show.
SF: You see a lot of stuff on TV, and I'm a huge fan of television — I watch a lot of television — and you're like, "I don't hear the writer's voice," but you do on "Bunheads." [Laughs.] You hear it! It's so evident. It's like that with Aaron Sorkin or… I'm trying to think of someone else where the words and the writing is exciting. She's exciting.

When do you start shooting again?
SF: End of October.

How many episodes coming up this spring in what the network calls a "back-order pick-up"? It's not the second season, it's a continuation. Do we know?
SF: I think it's eight more, so it will be 18 for the full first season. They do it in blocks. That's how they do it on ABC Family, so the first season will be 18. We'll see what happens!

(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)