Recent Posts

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Shows come and go on Broadway -- some are meaningful and stick with you, some (many) are easily forgettable. As with film or TV, it isn't always the show that sticks out and makes an impression as much as the actors who embody the characters. Unsuccessful or semi-successful shows have outlasted their estimated length of survival due in part to the break-out stars of these shows. In my mind, there are two actors whose work was recognized and became "break out stars" of their respective shows -- Kristin Chenoweth in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, and Sutton Foster in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

I can't always put into words the reasons why I go to the theatre or why it is so inspiring. Sometimes, it is a feeling, other times it is the power of the music and the story. If you are lucky, you will experience a phenomenal actor's interpretation of a show and understand how powerful live performance can be. I think the most charasmatic actor on (or on-her-way-back-to) Broadway is hands down, Sutton Foster.

Foster first caught my attention when she performed "Gimmie, Gimmie" from Thoroughly Modern Millie on The Rosie O'Donnell show. Her voice impressed me not only because of it's beauty but there is infectous power and energy behind each word she sings. Foster has become a true Broadway star and one that the Great White Way has needed. It's been a long time (in my opinion) since Broadway has had a true "It Girl." The last name that comes to mind is Bernadette Peters...and it was quite awhile ago when she first burst on the scene. The talent that exists on and off-Broadway is so enormous it really is hard to pinpoint someone whose talent is truly extraordinnary but when that happens, it's hard to ignore and people can't help but to pay attention.

It is no surprise when Foster was nominated for a Tony Award in 2003 for Thoroughly Modern Millie. To say Foster deserved the award is an understatement. With every note she sang and every step she danced, it was obvious that she was 150% commited to her role of Millie Dillmount and easily embodied this character and it showed. Foster went from a "no-name" understudy during the out-of-town-tryouts for the show to the lead and became a star -- it is as if her experience came directly from the plot of 42nd Street!

Broadway producers and bookers I'm sure were counting on the star power of the name Sutton Foster when Little Women opened in January 2005 at the Virginia Theater. Her name even topped the marquee above theater vet Maureen McGovern! Though the show didn't last long on Broadway, the Tony nominating committee recognized the quality of Foster's acting ability when they honored her with a nomination for her role of Jo in Little Women (the only nod the show received). Though the show was less than stellar, it was again Foster who stole the show and who I believe kept it afloat for the entire 5 months it ran on Broadway.

Seeing Sutton Foster's performance in Little Women pretty much defines the reason I go to the theatre. Sitting in the audience as she made her enterance was magical -- I don't think I have ever been so anxious to see an actor in a show. As she sung her first note, you could feel the energy and enthusiasm exuding from her soul. As an actor, she is truly powerful and the independent head-strong Jo in Little Women was a great choice following her Thoroughly Modern Millie success. Let it be known that I will never be able to say enough great things about Sutton Foster except for her choice of taking on the role of Janet in the Drowsy Chaperone.

I saw Drowsy Chaperone during it's L.A. run at the Ahmanson Theatre and it was as the title says, at best, a drowsy experience. As I sat impatiently for the 90 minutes of the non-sensical show, I couldn't figure out why any of these actors (Foster in particular) wanted to be in it. It is a show about musicals in which only true Broadway-philes could appreciate, but even then...some (including me) might not think so highly of it.

If you are lucky, you will see her perform and surely your life will be changed on some level, if only even for the two hours you join her in the theatre. It is so obvious that she is commited 150% to her roles and performances. There is something about her...beyond her charisma that I can't explain, but reminds me of the person I used to be a long time ago...and the person I should be again (on some level). She's got passion and drive that is actually contagious. And yes, it's not only Sutton, but the island of Manhattan that gives me that same drive...but I digress.

Funny, because seeing Sutton Foster reminded me that once upon a time, I wanted to be an actress on stage. I didn't want to act for fame or fortune, but for the experience to embody someone else emotionally. There was something about getting into the head of another person/character that intrigued me so and the way they were able to convey their emotions through song. When I was 5, I wanted to be Annie and belt out Tomorrow at the top of my lungs. Since then, there has always been a character throughout the years who intrigued me. In high school, I wanted to be Christine in POTO or Kim in Miss Saigon but it was the role of Cathy in The Last Five Years that has so much emotion and depth and I think is an incredible role and character. I won't admit how long I have been listening to the CD (not continuously) but each time, I gleam something different from the character, the show, the music -- simply amazing.

I'm not an actress, I probably will never be one, but if I could pick a role right now to do, I think it would have to be Cathy in The Last Five Years. It is an amazing role, JRB writes fantastic music, an even more fantastic role. There is so much to learn about the character that even as a listener I discover new aspects of over and over no matter how many times I listen to it. Can you imagine as an actor the levels of discovery? AMAZING!


Related Posts with Thumbnails