Sutton Foster lets us follow her as she preps to play the title role in 'Violet' at 'Encores! Off-Center' at Lincoln Center in New York.
Edited and excerpted from NewYork.com
In 2002, Sutton Foster exploded onto Broadway in the title role in the hit show “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” The musical gave Foster her first big break, and she earned a Foster and a Tony award for her performance. The production also afforded her the opportunity to work with “Millie” composer Jeanine Tesori.
So when Tesori asked Foster to play Violet in the upcoming revival of “Violet” on July 17, 2013, which Tesori also composed, Foster jumped at the chance.
“Violet,” which had an Off-Broadway run in 1997, centers around a young woman whose face is scarred from a childhood axe accident and follows her journey to healing.
Last week, Foster began rehearsals for “Violet” which will be performed as part of “Encores! Off-Center,” a new concert-production series celebrating Off-Broadway musicals. This past Friday, Foster let us into her world to show us what a day in her work life is really like:
I don’t have a place in New York anymore. I’m primarily living in Los Angeles so I’m staying at a hotel near City Center. I actually love staying in hotels and enjoy a good hotel room. So this experience has been very fun. It’s nice to have someone make your bed every day and I like room service. I lived on tour for a long time — for almost four or five years of my life. So I got used to moving around a lot. I’m here with my boyfriend who is also working here.
After I woke up, I got coffee and breakfast at Starbucks. I don’t order anything fancy. I just get a regular blonde coffee with half-and-half, an egg white sandwich and green juice. I have my little power start.
I came back to the hotel and did a little bit of work on the script. Then I warmed up. I always cringe when I’m staying in a hotel because when I’m warming up by singing, I’m always afraid someone’s going to get mad. I try to stuff my face in a towel or something. When I warm up, I do the same exact vocal exercises. It’s the exact same thing I do before every show or before anytime I sing. I’m religious about it. Then I put on a song like “Useless Desires” by Patty Griffin and I sing to it. She’s my favorite singer. Then I’m done and have little Slippery Elm by Thayers lozenges that I use for my voice. I’m addicted. Singers can be a little neurotic because it’s our livelihood. We have all of our tricks of the trade.
We started rehearsals at 10 a.m. City Center is about two blocks away from the hotel, so I just walked over. It was a full company today so we rehearse from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The biggest difference with this production is that we’re presenting it with script in hands, music stands and very minimal staging. This is only our third day of rehearsal. We started on Wednesday and learned music. Today we started at the very top of the show and we started putting the show on its feet and minimally staging it. So we’ll get to the end of the first act today.
Violet has a giant scar on her face where she was hit by an axe. But in the production, I’m not going to actually be disfigured. I think imaginations are more powerful than anything that can be dictated. We had a big moment talking about what side of the face it was on, what it looked like. The director pulled up images of women with scars. It was kind of intense and we were looking at all of these images so people could get a sense of what it was. It is important for me as an actress to know what the character is living with on a daily basis, how it is for her to leave the house, to be seen that way and what she has to overcome to go on this journey. We actually spent a good chunk of time just talking about that.
Now that I’m back in New York, there are all of these little places that I’ve missed. I love Pret a Manger. They are everywhere here and they don’t have them in L.A. It’s just one of my favorite places. And I love Chopped, the salad place. But I went to Pret and I got their spicy shrimp wrap and another coffee. Pretty simple.