The audience for Sutton Foster at The Barns at Wolf Trap was packed on opening night and clearly delighted to have a chance to hear Foster in such a warm and intimate venue.
A phenomenal actress, singer, and dancer, Sutton Foster won her first of two Tony Awards for Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2002, then in 2011, won again for the revival of Anything Goes. She has starred in revivals including Sweet Charity, The Wild Party, Violet, and originated Broadway roles in Shrek the Musical, Young Frankenstein, The Drowsy Chaperone, Little Women, Les Misérables, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Annie, Grease, and Trust. In September 2020, she will return to Broadway as Marian in The Music Man, opposite Hugh Jackman.
Despite her critical acclaim as a Broadway performer, many in the audience seemed to know her best from her work in TV, where she is currently starring as Liza in TV Land’s series, Younger. She also starred in Bunheads and Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. As a recording artist, Foster released her third solo album, Take Me To The World, in 2018, collaborating with Michael Rafter, her musical director, and accompanist for this concert.
Sutton Foster can belt, but most of the evening, her songs were connecting to the audience with gently presented but intricately gorgeous takes. Singing from the great American theatre songbook, she shared many of the tunes which she had introduced, using her signature ability to subtly act nuances of a song. What a brilliant display!
Foster opened with the positivity of “Cockeyed Optimist,” which turned into “Everybody Says Don’t,” then “Say Yes.” She reflected characters in the songs who were determined to succeed at the outset of their lives and careers. “If They Could See Me Now” blended with “I Get A Kick.” Also included were Cole Porter love songs, “Don’t Look at Me That Way,” “C’est Magnifique,” and “Ooh La La.”
Foster took the audience on a musical journey that connected with her own life events such as visits from her high school theatre teacher while she was starring on Broadway, and the death of her mother before Foster became a mother herself to her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Her tribute song to her mother was John Denver’s “Sunshine,” which couldn’t have been more beautiful or touching.
Legends such as Hoagy Carmichael, Jason Robert Brown, Stephen Sondheim, Fats Waller, and new composers such as Shaina Talb, were among the songwriters that Foster celebrates and interprets. Arrangements were all by her accompanist, and Michael Rafter’s versions all showcased Foster’s stunning soprano and accented her distinct ability to tell the story in the songs. Rafter’s musical arrangements were sensitive and intimate, and the musical bond with Foster was precise.
Running Time: One hour and 15 minutes with no intermission.