BWW Review: OPENING NIGHT: AN EVENING WITH SUTTON FOSTER at MPAC Mayo Performing Arts Center
Few people can bring a packed audience to the edge of their seats and keep them there with just a trio of musicians and a microphone. On Friday night, October 6th, I had the privilege of experiencing Sutton Foster cast a spell on the captivated audience at Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown. Crooning songs old and new, the selections weaved and spun together perfectly.
I was struck by the range of her song choices, "The Nearness of You", which in my humble opinion is the most romantic song ever written, was sung with delicacy and care. The way she created a mash up of some broadway favorites; all so different yet so cohesive. I was particularly enthralled with her choice to sing "It All Fades Away" from the underrated musical Bridges of Madison County. A bittersweet song written for the male lead translated beautifully to a woman's voice.
I've been a Sutton Foster fan for quite some time. Back more than a decade ago when I was just a broke college student at NYU spending her last cent (and I do mean last) on a Broadway show called Thoroughly Modern Millie. I promised myself I would take advantage of all New York City had to offer even if that meant spending every last bit of my work study paycheck on expensive Broadway shows and concerts. Boy was it worth it. Sutton dazzled as Millie. She was a true revelation. I'm not the only one who felt that way, Sutton took home the first of her two Tony Awards for her portrayal of a small town girl in the big city. I spent the rest of the year pouring over the original cast album, studying every note, marveling at the memory of her flawlessly signing while feverishly tap dancing. Makes me winded just thinking about it! To this day I've only seen one other person dance and sing with such rigor and her name starts with a B and ends with a eyoncé. Yeah, I said it.
This concert felt like a full circle moment for me. Ending with a group of talented young actors and actresses singing one of my favorite Sutton Foster songs, "On My Way" mixed with "I'm On My Way" from the brilliant musical Violet. I was so moved to see her impact reaching into the next generation of performers. Students of the craft who undoubtedly spend hours and days listening to original cast albums, memorizing every note and every breath. Who may one day end up on the MPAC stage performing their own solo act for a bright-eyed kid who just spent their very last dollar on that ticket.
The Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown, NJ offers a wide range of entertainment throughout their 2017-2018 season. You can visit their website for more information, their events calendar, and ticketing: https://www.mayoarts.org.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of MPAC