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Sutton Foster: Broadway’s Fair Lady

Christopher Loudon on musical theater star's new album

Sutton Foster

Towards the end of An Evening With Sutton Foster: Live at the Café Carlyle (Ghostlight), the diminutive Broadway star with the great big voice remarks that she was recently an answer on Jeopardy, then self-disparagingly adds that none of the three contestants could identify her. It’s a telling little tale. For, though Sutton has reigned as one of musical theater’s brightest and most bankable stars for nearly a decade, with five Tony nominations and one win to her credit, she has yet to achieve the mainstream popularity of, say, Patti LuPone or Kristin Chenowith. As, however, this sparkling hour-long set, captured on the closing night of Sutton’s two-week Carlyle engagement last summer, superbly demonstrates, she is every bit as deserving of widespread attention among not only Broadway aficionados but the cabaret crowd, too.

Foster, currently starring as evangelist-turned-chanteuse Reno Sweeney in the latest Broadway revival of Anything Goes (which might easily garner her a second Tony when the awards are handed out June 12), is as formidable a belter as Reno’s originator, Ethel Merman. Indeed, twice during the Carlyle show, first in her introduction to the Wicked hit “Defying Gravity” and again before her closing rendition of Dreamgirls‘ “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” Sutton jokingly warns the Carlyle crowd to move back, lest the get blown away by the vocal firestorm she’s about to ignite. But unlike Merman Foster also has a softer, more delicate side that suggests the up-close-and-personal appeal of such fellow cabaret-cum-musical-theater champs as Bernadette Peters and Jessica Molaskey.

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