“My number one piece of advice is to not be an asshole and be kind and respect people around you. You can actually achieve your dreams without being a dick.”
That’s the pointed suggestion that Sutton Foster said she’d give to any young aspiring performers who are coming to see her at the Merriam Theatre in March. The superstar actress, who has multiple Tony Awards to her name and a plethora of screen credits, including her current hit, TV Land’s Younger, is so unbelievably likable that you can’t help but feel that you’re best friends, even after talking to her for a few minutes on the phone.
That likability, surely, has helped the actress keep one foot on the stage at the other on the screen. Some of her newer fans may not ever know about her Broadway past, where she played leading roles in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anything Goes, and The Drowsy Chaperone.
“I posted something on Instagram a few weeks ago, and someone commented, ‘You sing?'” Foster recalled. “I was having a conversation with someone recently and they said, ‘Have you ever thought of doing theater?…’ It’s such a weird thing. I never sought out to be on TV. These opportunities to work on cool projects with great characters came to me at a point in my career where I wanted to do something new and challenging.”
For those who worry if we might never see Foster on a Broadway stage again, fear not.
“Theater and my stage work will always be my true passion, not that TV isn’t awesome,” she said. “I’m having the best time, especially with Younger. It is sort of fascinating.”
Yet, Younger isn’t the only screen project that Foster is excited about. It was announced last week that she’ll be starring in the upcoming Netflix reboot of the popular series The Gilmore Girls, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, who also wrote Bunheads, the short-lived sitcom that featured Foster back in 2012.
Foster told me that the original Gilmore was her “favorite show of all time,” and that back in 2000, when she was on the national tour of Les Mis, she took a tour of the Warner Brother Studios where Gilmore was shot.
“I have a picture of me in Luke’s Diner, and that was 16 years ago,” she said. “I’m going to pretty much lose my shit being on this show. It’s a thing, and when I get to hang out with Lorelai, I’m going to freak out. There will be tears, and I will cry.”
Ms. Foster should be better composed when she comes to Philadelphia with her music director Michael Rafter to perform an evening of signature songs from her repertoire. There will be plenty of music that she really loves singing and that represents her as an artist, but also some tunes that will get “tested” on Philly audiences.
“Michael and I are putting together a brand new album, and there’s some new songs that we are working through,” she said. “We’re going to use Philly’s ears to try out the new material. I love doing these concerts and I’m super excited to come to Philly.”
We’ll be waiting to hear it all on March 3, when she takes the stage at the Merriam. after that, she’ll fly out to Hollywood to start work on Gilmore. It’s a project that she never thought would be in the cards. The day before I spoke with Foster, she was flying from Australia back to New York, where she read the new script on the plane.
“Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and I have become really good friends, and she said, ‘I’m writing a part for you,’ and you think, ‘Who knows if that’s gonna happen?’ Then on the flight back from Australia, I’m reading the script and it’s like, ‘Shit! It’s actually a thing!'”
It’s a living example of yet another piece of advice she’d share with those who are yearning for a break in show business.
“Take opportunities to say, ‘Yes’ to things,” she said. “Don’t let your ego dictate things. You’ll always learn something. Don’t let your ego set limitations.”
For more information on Sutton Foster’s concert at the Merriam Theatre, or to purchase tickets, click here.