Sutton Lenore Foster (born March 18, 1975) is an American actress, singer and dancer. Foster is best known for her work on the Broadway stage, for which she has received two Tony Awards for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical in 2002 for her role as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie and in 2011 for her performance as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. Her other Broadway credits include Little Women, The Drowsy Chaperone, Young Frankenstein, Shrek the Musical, and Violet. On television, Foster played the lead role in the short-lived ABC Family comedy-drama Bunheads from 2012 to 2013. She is currently starring in the TV Land comedy-drama Younger as Liza Miller, which premiered on March 31, 2015.
Early life and education:
Foster was born in Statesboro, Georgia, and raised in Troy, Michigan. At the age of 15, she was a contestant on the reality competition show Star Search and also auditioned for the cast of The Mickey Mouse Club. She left Troy High School before graduating (she received her diploma via correspondence courses) to join the national tour of The Will Rogers Follies directed by Tommy Tune. Then she attended Carnegie Mellon University for one year, but left to pursue a theatrical career full-time. In May 2012, she received an honorary doctorate from Ball State University. Her older brother is actor Hunter Foster.
Foster made her Broadway debut as an understudy for Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease in 1996. Then she appeared in The Scarlet Pimpernel and as Star to Be in Annie in 1997. Afterwards on Broadway, Foster was understudying for Eponine in Les Misérables in 2000.
Foster's opportunity was reminiscent of 42nd Street when, during rehearsals of the pre-Broadway run of Thoroughly Modern Millie at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, she replaced the lead actress Erin Dilly. Any apprehension about having an unknown playing the lead in a nearly $10 million Broadway production was proven unfounded when she opened at the Marquis Theatre to many positive reviews. The New York Daily News reviewer described her as "newcomer Sutton Foster, who has the pert look, the silver voice and the dazzling legwork to make an extraordinarily winning Millie."Clive Barnes, reviewing for the New York Post wrote "Newcomer Sutton Foster's own star turn as Millie is perfectly charming, but as a star she doesn't twinkle, glitter or light up Broadway like a Christmas tree defying a July noon. But she has a good voice and is cutely agreeable." The Newsday reviewer wrote: "She has a smile that may remind you of Mary Tyler Moore, the gawky comic precision of the young Carol Burnett, the lyricism of a romantic heroine and a smallish but vibrant voice as accurate as it is expressive. As Millie, another of New York's prototypical small-town girls with big-city dreams, Sutton Foster appears unfazed by the burden of a character created onscreen by Julie Andrews. The newcomer takes the big stage with an uninhibited what-the-heck comfort level and the discipline to go with her instincts."Time Magazine wrote: "she's Sutton Foster got the full package: girlish gawkiness and Broadway brass, the legs and the lungs. Foster is a big reason the show is just about the cutest thing to hit Broadway since Annie's dimples, with perkily retro songs by Jeanine Tesori and clever staging by director Michael Mayer..." Foster went on to win the 2002 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance.
In 2005, Foster co-starred as Jo March opposite Maureen McGovern as Marmee in the musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women, for which she was nominated for her second Tony Award. She returned to the Marquis Theatre in May 2006 in The Drowsy Chaperone, a spoof of 1920s musicals. She played Janet van de Graaff, a famous Broadway starlet who opts to forgo a stage career in favor of married life. Her performance earned her a third Tony nomination. Foster co-starred in Mel Brooks' musical adaptation of his film Young Frankenstein as the Swedish yodeling fraulein Inga from October 2007 to July 2008.
She played Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical, which opened on Broadway on December 14, 2008. For this role, Foster won her second Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical and was nominated for her fourth Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. She played her final performance on January 3, 2010, when the show closed on Broadway. Foster participated in a reading of a work-in-progress new musical, Bonnie and Clyde: A Folktale, in June 2009. Her brother, Hunter is writing the music for this musical.
Foster starred as Nurse Fay Apple in the New York City Center's Encores! production of Anyone Can Whistle, which played from April 8 to April 11, 2010.
Foster taught a Spring Semester master class at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Undergraduate Department of Drama, beginning in January 2010. The elite class was chosen from auditions conducted by Sutton herself. It culminated in a critically acclaimed cabaret performance at Joe's Pub in May titled "From Rodgers To Heart". She taught the master class again in Fall Semester 2010, culminating in another performance at Joe's Pub, "Crazy for Gershwin". Both were musically directed by Deborah Abramson. She is now on the faculty of NYU's New Studio on Broadway.
Foster taught a week-long master class session at Ball State University (Muncie, IN) in January 2010. She continued her relationship with Ball State in September 2010 by working with students in the classroom, teaching master classes, and performing workshops for students of the Department of Theatre and Dance. In the spring of 2012, she returned to Ball State, teaching classes, mentoring the interdisciplinary team that wrote the musical The Circus in Winter, and co-directing the Department of Theatre and Dance's Spring 2012 production of The Drowsy Chaperone; she also spoke at commencement and received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree for her continued engagement with Ball State students. Foster continued her relationship with Ball State in October 2012, performing in the staged reading of The Circus in Winter at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals at New World Stages in New York.
Foster made her Off-Broadway debut in Paul Weitz's comedy Trust with Zach Braff, Bobby Cannavale and Ari Graynor which began previews July 23, 2010 with an official opening August 12, running through September 12, 2010 at Second Stage Theatre.
Foster played Reno Sweeney in the Broadway revival of Anything Goes, which began performances on March 10, 2011 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre and officially opened on April 7, 2011. Foster won her third Outer Critics Circle Award and second Drama Desk Award and Tony Award for her performance. Foster's final performance was on March 11, 2012, when she was replaced by Stephanie J. Block. Foster left to film the comedy-drama Bunheads, which premiered on ABC Family on June 11, 2012.
From March to August 2014, Foster starred in the Roundabout Theatre Company production of the musical Violet at the American Airlines Theatre. Foster received her sixth Tony Award nomination for her performance.
She will return to Encores! in July 2015 to play Queenie in Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party.
In 2007, Foster guest-starred on the children's musical puppet show Johnny and the Sprites and in a three-episode story arc on the HBO sitcom Flight of the Conchords. She also guest-starred on an episode of the NBC legal drama Law & Order: SVU, which aired on March 3, 2010 opposite comedian Kathy Griffin.
Foster played the lead role in the short-lived 2012 ABC Family drama Bunheads developed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls. She played former Las Vegas showgirl Michelle, who impulsively marries a man, moves to his small town, and begins teaching ballet lessons at her new mother-in-law's dance studio. She has won Gracie Award and received a nomination at the 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. The series was cancelled after single season. She later was cast as the lead in the TV Land single-camera comedy-drama pilot Younger, created by Darren Star. It was originally set to be released January 13, but she stated on January 31st in an interview at TETA TheatreFest 2015 in Houston, Texas that the release was delayed. She was cast as Liza Miller. In May 2015 it was announced that Younger was renewed for a second season.
In 2013, Foster starred as Kerry in Psych actor James Roday's comedic thriller Gravy. In 2014, she appeared opposite Robin Williams in the comedy The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.
Foster participated in a one night concert version of Funny Girl for the New York Actor's Benefit Fund in 2002.
Foster's debut solo album Wish was released by Ghostlight Records in February 2009. The songs range from jazz to pop to cabaret to Broadway. In 2010, Foster promoted the album with concert performances in Boston, New York, Chicago, the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Orange County, California, and Washington, D.C.
Foster and Seth Rudetsky participated in the one night only Actors Fund benefit concert of They're Playing Our Song on August 30, 2010 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College, New York. The full cast included Efé, Kaitlyn Davidson, Alex Ellis, Maynard, Matt Loehr, and Jesse Nager, and was directed by Denis Jones.
Foster performed at the 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors in a tribute to Jerry Herman, singing "Before the Parade Passes By." Then she performed at the Kennedy Center Honors the following year in a tribute to Barbara Cook. She made a third appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors, performing for the tribute to Shirley MacLaine.
Foster performed a concert tour from September 2012 to May 2013, performing songs from both her Broadway career and her solo album.
She made her Carnegie Hall debut in April 2015, with guest appearances from Joshua Henry and Megan McGinnis.
Foster met actor Christian Borle in college, and married him on September 18, 2006. During a radio interview in 2010, it was confirmed that Foster and Borle divorced. Foster and Borle still remain friends and continue to support each other's work. Foster dated actor Bobby Cannavale from 2010 to 2011. In April 2012, Foster confirmed their breakup. On September 19, 2013, Foster confirmed that she became engaged to screenwriter Ted Griffin. She and Griffin married on October 25, 2014.
Mr. Terbillion's Ambition
Johnny and the Sprites
Episode: "Johnny's Sister Tina/Spritesgiving!"
Flight of the Conchords
Recurring role, 3 episodes
Just in Case
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Project Runway: All Stars
Episode: "Puttin' on the Glitz"
Episode: "Bottoms Up"
Series regular, 18 episodes
Shrek the Musical
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
Episode: "A Nightmare on State Street"
Violet as Violet Karl (2014),
Anything Goes as Reno Sweeney (2011-2012),
Shrek the Musical as Princess Fiona (2008-2010),
Young Frankenstein as Inga (2007-2008),
The Drowsy Chaperone as Janet Van De Graaff (2006-2007),
Little Women as Jo March (2005),
Thoroughly Modern Millie as Millie Dillmount (2002-2004),
Les Misérables as Eponine u/s (2000),
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1997),
Annie as Star to Be (1997),
Grease as Sandy Dumbrowski u/s (1996),
Trust as Prudence (2010),
Me and My Girl (2004),
What the World Needs Now (1998),
The Three Musketeers,
Violet (Encores!) as Violet (July 18, 2013),
They're Playing Our Song as Sonia Walsk (August 30, 2010),
Anyone Can Whistle (Encores!) as Nurse Fay Apple (April 8-11, 2010),
Chess (Concert) as Svetlana (September 22, 2003),
Funny Girl (Concert) as Fanny Brice (September 23, 2002),
Carrie, Off-Broadway Revival,
Bonnie & Clyde,
The Circus in Winter (October 11-12, 2012)
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license