BWW Exclusive Interview: Sutton Foster Chats BUNHEADS, Working With 'Bro' Hunter Foster & Returning to Broadway
Award-winning actor, singer and dancer Sutton Foster portrays Michelle Simms on the ABC Family series BUNHEADS. She has appeared on Broadway in "Grease!," "The Scarlet Pimpernel," "Annie" and "LES MISERABLES," prior to her big break and Tony Award-winning performance in "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Foster has also originated roles in the Broadway productions of "Little Women," "The Drowsy Chaperone," "Young Frankenstein" and "Shrek the Musical." In 2011 she starred in the revival of "Anything Goes," a role that earned her the 2011 Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Astaire Awards. She has also performed solo shows all across the county and has released two solo albums - "Wish" and "Sutton Foster Live at the Cafe Carlyle."
The multi-talented actress chats exclusively with BWW about the upcoming season of Bunheads, (which features a guest star appearance by her real-life brother, Broadway star Hunter Foster!) and reveals why she hopes to return to Broadway 'sometime soon'!
It was just announced that your brother Hunter was going to be guest starring on Bunheads this season in the role of your fictional brother.
He does! He's playing my brother on the show. We've actually been filming the episodes last week and this week and it's been so awesome to work together and to have him on set. It's really, really cool.
Is this the first time the two of you have worked together?
In this capacity, yes. We did shows when we were kids, like community theater growing up. And then we've kind of overlapped in some shows on Broadway, randomly. He was in 'Les Mis', and then I was coming into 'Les Mis' when he was leaving and I think we overlapped for three performances. And then we did the revival of 'Grease' together back in the '90's that Rosie O'Donnell was in. He was playing Roger and I came in to play Sandy and we did that for like three weeks together on Broadway. But we've never really acted with one another so it's been really cool. The other day I said, 'I don't think I've ever looked at you quite so much in my life!' So it has been like, 'Oh my God, I'm like acting with my brother!', so it's been really, really fun. It's been a really cool opportunity.
Well I'm looking forward to seeing that! Last season, things didn't end on a good note for you and your mother-in-law Fannie, played by the great Kelly Bishop. Is there any hope for your relationship?
I know right, Michelle kind of made a big mess up at the end there. But yeah, heading back from all that this season, there's a bit of a time jump. We have a couple months and we discover that Michelle has left, she's back in Vegas. She left Paradise. I do think that Fannie and her are destined to be in each other's lives. Michelle does eventually come back to Paradise, but how she gets back there is pretty cool.
Great. What about on the romanctic front? Last season there was a brief encounter with the wealthy mystery man Grant who lived on the hill. Will that character return or are there other romantic possibilities for Michelle?
You know what's been interesting, I keep asking Amy [Sherman-Palladino] as far as the romance goes, and there's definitely people that will pop up in Michelle's life. But I think the big priority for Michelle is to find sort of stability without a man. Sort of this idea that maybe that a man was always her answer, that's how she got to Paradise in the first place, she married this guy thinking maybe that would be the answer. And I think before Michelle can really find love, or the idea of love or romance, she has to find herself first. So while I think there will be little flicker of stuff here and there, my hope for her is that her answer doesn't lie in a man. That would just be an added bonus.
Can we hope to see more singing and dancing from you this season?
I was wondering if you may be able to persuade any of your Broadway pals to guest star on the show.
Ahh, it would be so awesome! Even the thought of my brother on there is so cool. Down the road, I have a feeling, the show is beginning to open up in a new direction and that is definitely a possibility. So we'll see. Hopefully more Broadway will start popping up on Bunheads.
Do you see any parallels between your own life and Michelle's life as far as starting out on a new adventure?
Oh definitely. I've been living in New York for fifteen years and now I'm in a whole new town, doing a whole new thing and starting over in many, many ways. And that's totally parallel to Michelle. I hope I'm more put together than she is! I think I am. But she's in a brand new town, starting over her life as well, so it's been cool to share that parallel with her as I find my footing here in LA, which has been fun and scary but exciting and a really nice change.
We see so much of your comedic skills on the show. Is that something that comes naturally to you?
I guess. I always attribute it to being a tall, gangly awkward kid and I think humor was a way to just kind of deflect anything. My mom and my dad are both so witty and I grew up addicted to The Muppet Show and Carol Burnett and Comedy Central. I was like obsessed with humor and the idea of using humor to, I don't know, get through life. I'm not as naturally witty as Michelle. I only wish that I could come up with some of the quips that she gets to say. I hopefully surround myself with really good writers that provide funny things to play with. But it's a gift to be able to have someone like Amy Sherman-Palladino write for you. We get each other on such a great level and she really understands me and is writing for me and it's just so fun and I just get to do some really, really great things.
You two make a great team. Any Broadway or concert plans on the horizon that you may be able to fit into your busy schedule?
Well I'm definitely doing concerts. Right now I'm traveling around on the weekends. On December 27th I'm at Santa Fe doing a concert there. Next year we have concerts lined up throughout the year. Michael Rafter, my music director, and I are working on a new album that we're hoping to record in the spring. So it's fun. I'm able to continue working on music and concert work.
As far as a Broadway show, nothing's on the immediate horizon, but I definitely have irons in the fire. Right now my focus is primarily on Bunheads, but hopefully this is just for now, it's not forever and hopefully I'll be able to come back to New York with something really great sometime soon.
Awesome, because we miss you here!
Aww, thank you.
ABOUT ABC FAMILY'S BUNHEADS:
Monday nights on ABC Family are all new with the Season Two premiere of the critically-acclaimed series "Bunheads". On the winter premiere, it's been several months since the Nutcracker fiasco, where Michelle accidently maced the young performers of Paradise Dance Academy. Now she's crashing on her friend's couch and working as a dancer for a small-time magician in Henderson, NV. Meanwhile in Paradise, the dance studio is closed down, leaving the students to keep busy on their own. Ginny has taken over her mother's real estate business; Melanie has been caring for her grandpa, and Boo is pulling her hair out taking care of her little brother while her pregnant mother is on bed rest.
After a summer at Joffrey, Sasha returns but refuses to head back home, instead hiding out with friends. The episode airs Monday, January 7th at 9:00PM ET/PT on ABC Family.
"Bunheads" is executive produced by Amy Sherman-Palladino. The series stars Tony Award-winner Sutton Foster, Kaitlyn Jenkins, Julia Goldani Telles, Bailey Buntain and Emma Dumont with guest star Kelly Bishop ("Gilmore Girls").
Official ABC Family "Bunheads" website: www.abcfamily.com/bunheads