NEW YORK — It’s a challenge, pinpointing exactly where Sutton Foster begins and Charity Hope Valentine ends.
“My tagline on my email is, ‘Sent from the land of puppy dogs and rainbows,’ ” Foster says with all earnestness, as she reflects on the character she plays in the current off-Broadway revival of “Sweet Charity.”
Vital differences exist, of course, between the two-time Tony-winning actress and the lovelorn, self-deluding dancer-for-hire of this 1966 musical comedy with songs by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields and a book by Neil Simon. But, as Foster confides, she didn’t have to suppress too many of her own impulses to adopt the disposition of a woman who applies a rosy finish to life’s harsh surfaces.
ON BROADWAY is where actress Sutton Foster got her first big break many years ago — and she’s still wowing them on stage, while also finding time to talk to our Mo Rocca:
“You’re gonna go out there a youngster but you’ve got to come back a star!”
It’s a showbiz myth as old as showbiz itself: the understudy who overnight becomes a star. But it actually happened to Sutton Foster.
In 2000, Foster was the 25-year-old understudy to the lead in the Broadway-bound musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” when director Michael Mayer called her.
“He said that the woman playing Millie has left the show, and the role of Millie is yours if you want it,” Foster recalled. “I was on the other line with the boyfriend at the time, and I was, like, ‘What?’ And, like, clicked off with Michael Mayer, went back to the boyfriend, ‘I have to call you back!’”
It sounds like the plot of a Broadway musical: Sutton Foster was the understudy in the La Jolla production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” when the lead dropped out — and the producers offered her the title role, for which she would go on win the Tony Award. “I’m very grateful I got my beginnings in theater,” says Foster, who’s now starring in TV Land’s “Younger.” “I developed a strong work ethic that serves me well.”