Sutton Foster is so generous a performer that she celebrated her upcoming birthday by giving the audience a present. The night of March 13, 2015, as she joined The New York Pops to make her solo debut at Carnegie Hall, she announced at one point she would be going off-program and mentioned that her birthday would be happening in five days. On the eve of her fortieth birthday, she needed to “prepare to play older roles” she said with a smile, before exclaiming “Here she is, boys! Here she is, world” and diving into a rendition of “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, so rousing that by the end, amidst the roaring ovation, an audience member from the balcony yelled “do it again!” She blushed, covered her face and flashed that childlike smile that still seems to be surprised to realize the power of her instrument, as if her body isn’t aware of the beauty that emanates from it.
The celebration simply called One Night Only: Sutton Foster served as an opportunity to look back at her career, while looking forward to her future. The New York Pops opened with a vibrant performance of the overture from Anything Goes, the Cole Porter musical that won Foster her second Tony Award, from which she also performed “I Get a Kick Out of You” and the title song, which she delivered with adorable tongue-in-cheek-ness.
Some of the most spirited moments in the evening featured Ms. Foster’s special guests, for instance, she recruited her Violet co-star Joshua Henry to perform two solo numbers (“A Change is Gonna Come” and “Let It Sing”) which he aced - the former was chillingly beautiful, the latter made one feel like they could conquer the world - and they also got together to do a skit that led into an energetic rendition of “Fit as a Fiddle (And Ready for Love)” complete with a tap routine which kept the audience clamoring for more. Her other guest was Megan McGinnis whom Ms. Foster referred to as her “best friend in the world”; together they sang Craig Carnelia’s “Flight”, before McGinnis performed a sweet version of “Neverland” from Peter Pan.
The evening featured instrumental numbers from the extraordinary The New York Pops including the overture from Jeanine Tesori’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, an enchanting medley of famous TV shows (to highlight Foster’s television career) and a sensual, sumptuous version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” that was the epitome of transporting music. The show wasn’t without tender moments, as Ms. Foster performed John Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders” which she dedicated to her late mother, and two violinists performed the moving “Ashokan Farewell”, a number conductor Steven Reineke revealed was included due to Sutton’s love of Americana.
It was indeed a night to remember, and by the time the show arrived to its encore, which had Ms. Foster perform “Anyone Can Whistle” and “Being Alive” from Company, the audience excitement was such, that Ms. Foster had to return for a second encore which had her start with “On My Way to You”, which segued into “Gimme Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie. Needless to say so, the applause was even more thunderous the second time around. Boy, she’s got it!
Read our interview with Sutton Foster here.