It's understandable why she wants to get a jump on things, being as busy as she is. Aside from her concert with Rudetsky, a show-tune savant and SiriusXM Satellite Radio star, Foster is promoting her new TV Land comedy series, "Younger," which will premiere March 31. The night after our interview, she would make her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops.
Foster starred on Broadway in "The Will Rogers Follies," "Grease," "The Scarlet Pimpernel," "Annie," "Les Miserables," "Anything Goes" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Now, she is preparing for a turn in "The Wild Party" this summer in New York.
"I'm a little scattered and a little crazy right now," she says. "Yes, Carnegie Hall … [big sigh] … that's why I called you early. It's been a crazy last few days. Just crazy. But I will give you my full attention."
She kept her word. Here is an excerpt from the interview.
I am convinced that Seth Rudetsky knows everyone even remotely connected to Broadway. How did you two meet?
We met when I was in the Broadway company of "Grease," which was in 1996, when I made my Broadway debut. We just became friends. He was always so great to me. We did several benefits. We've just been friends forever. And then, we worked together with "They're Playing Our Song" Actors Fund benefit in, I think, 2010. He's just a personality, which I love. And he's so integral to the Broadway community. You're right, everyone knows who Seth is.
But the thing about this series at Parker Playhouse is none of the stars seems to know what's going to happen beforehand. There must be a lot of trust there, right?
I always love doing concerts with Seth. [I] do a lot of concerts all over the country … but when I work with Seth, I never know what is going to happen. It's a free-for-all. I just bring a big binder of music, and he decides what I'm doing and what we'll be tossing out. I have no idea. It's kind of like "Inside the Actors Studio," you know, with James Lipton? It's just a fun evening of reflection and dusting off some old favorites.
I'm pretty sure you'll end up doing some of Jeanine Tesori's music, since you've been in so many of her shows, like "Shrek the Musical," "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "Violet."
Yeah, it's not possible to not have something from her. So many of my major productions have been by her. I have a feeling that will definitely happen.
I know you've done television before, like with "Law & Order: SVU," "Flight of the Conchords" and "Bunheads." But are you prepared for the kind of fame that TV can bring when your series "Younger" starts?
I experienced some of that with "Bunheads." Even though that was on a small scale, that really upped my recognizable-ness. I was in people's living rooms. More people saw me in "Bunheads" than in all 11 shows I've done on Broadway. We'll see. It's been interesting. I have no idea what to expect. I'm just going to keep living my life.
Can you talk about the difference in acting for the television camera and acting for the theater stage?
Definitely the craft of it, it's very similar actually. You're creating a character, telling stories, communicating. It's all about connecting. Those things are very similar. The difference comes in the technicality, in just what it means to be on a set in front of a camera: the angles, the lighting, all that. And then, there are some exact things that go on when you work onstage: the way the audience is that night and, of course, the difference is that we're live. The pace of the day for TV is very long, and once you shoot something, you do the scene, you don't go back to it. With a show … you get the chance to go back over and over or fix something that didn't go right the night before. You can explore and go deep.
You have two Tony Awards, one for "Thoroughly Modern Millie" in 2002 and the other for "Anything Goes" in 2011. So where do you keep those awards in your home? Do you have them in the corner of a bookcase so people will discover them in a happenstance way?
[Laughing] Yeah, like, "Oh, those? Those are my Tonys. Whatever." Well, they were in L.A., but I just traveled across the country. My husband [screenwriter Ted Griffin] and I are bicoastal. We have a home in L.A., and we just bought a home in New York. I just traveled here so I brought them back to New York, and they are there on a shelf.
As busy as you are these days, what made you decide to do "The Wild Party" this summer?
[Laughing] Right? I saw it at the Fringe Festival, and I saw it off-Broadway whenever that was. It's one of the best things I've ever seen. I'm obsessed by it. So when they asked, I said yes, and then it was, "I don't know if I can do it." But Leigh Silverman is directing. She directed me in "Violet." I never trusted a director more. We haven't really started working on it yet, but I'm very much looking forward to getting into this dark, sexy, dirty, messy piece.
It's a departure when you look at the rest of your roles, right?
But that's what's fun about it. That's the type of career I want. OK, now I'm going to do this and see what this is like. I'm trying to get through Carnegie Hall and "Younger" first. ["The Wild Party"] will definitely be one of my biggest challenges. But one of my biggest sayings is that I love a challenge.
"Seth Rudetsky's Broadway Concert Series" with Sutton Foster will begin 8 p.m. Friday, March 20, at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., in Fort Lauderdale (at Holiday Park). Tickets cost $46.50-$126.50. To order, call 954-462-0222 or go to ParkerPlayhouse.com.