Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sutton Foster Enters a New Stage in 'Bunheads'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sutton Foster Enters a New Stage in 'Bunheads'

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES --

Sutton Foster -- toast of Broadway, musical theater dynamo and an actress who has been hailed as a "triple threat" wonder by critics - - is missing from the Great White Way.

A year after scoring her second lead actress Tony Award for the revival of "Anything Goes" and dazzling the Tony television audience with her tap-dancing performance of that show's title song, Ms. Foster has switched coasts and turned away from the greasepaint and nightly standing ovations. She's traded Broadway for "Bunheads."

With only a few small TV roles on her resume, Ms. Foster is front and center as the star of the new ABC Family series (tonight at 9), playing an aging Las Vegas showgirl who unexpectedly is put in charge of a class of ballet students. Her smiling face -- but not her name -- is on billboards and huge posters for the show's nationwide promo campaign.

Starring in a new series on a cable network instead of a glitzy Broadway production has been what Ms. Foster calls a "strange and surreal" leap, throwing her from the comfort of the theater world into the riskier and fiercely competitive Hollywood arena, which traditionally has not been especially welcoming to Broadway's female dynamos. Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald, who scored her fifth Tony a week ago, are among the top stars who have had mixed results on TV, doing well-received work but generally without the adoration and marquee status they enjoy for their stage roles.

Despite the pressures, Ms. Foster, 37, is exuberant about what could be called her second act.

"This is kind of awesome," Ms. Foster said recently during a break on the "Bunheads" Hollywood soundstage. "I started working professionally in the theater at 17, and it's all I've known. I was ready for a brand-new challenge and a new chapter in my life."

She's had to make a few adjustments, including moving from New York to Los Angeles and working days as long as 12 hours ("I worked four hours a day when I was on a show, maybe seven hours if there were two shows that day")

And her first talk show appearance with Craig Ferguson on his "Late Late Show" was a bit of a rude awakening: Though Mr. …

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