She’s the top! Sutton Foster on making her West End debut in ‘Anything Goes’
The world has gone mad today…over Sutton Foster returning to her Tony-winning role of Reno Sweeney in the West End revival of Anything Goes, which started performances at the Barbican on 23 July. Foster is a true triple threat whose Broadway credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Drowsy Chaperone, Shrek the Musical, and many more, but she’s never trod the London stages — before now. Her West End debut performance has also been immortalized as a film, screening in U.S. cinemas on March 27 and 30.
We chatted with Sutton Foster over Zoom, and she had loads to share about why she’s excited to be a part of theatre coming back in London, what she’s learning returning to Reno Sweeney, and much more. Watch our video interviews with Sutton Foster, and read more below!
On returning to Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes after 10 years
When [director] Kathleen Marshall first approached me about it, I thought, Oh, this could be like a really cool opportunity to like revisit something 10 years later and to be able to use my life experience in the last 10 years I feel like will add to the portrayal of Reno. She’s a very worldly, experienced character and so I’m excited about that. But I’m also realizing that the show is physically the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life and my entire body is 10 years older. And so I am daunted by that, but Kathleen and I had a wonderful meeting and we are on board to go for all the original choreography and those big numbers.
On making her West End debut
It feels like the perfect show to be making my West End debut. I love the show and I also feel like it’s such a perfect show for this time, because it’s just joyous and delightful and it’s escapism. It was originally done during the Depression, and so it was one of those shows that brought joy to people. And I do feel like it’s like champagne. And some of my most like thrilling moments I’ve ever had on stage have been doing the show. It is a little weird coming back before the people in the States, but it is so exciting that so many shows have announced their return. This has been a long time coming and the second I land back in New York City, I’m going to see a show a night, so I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see everything.
On how her life experience will inform her return to the role
I hope I’ve learned something in the last 10 years. And it’s been an interesting 10 years because I’ve gone off and done other things. I was on a television show [Younger]. I got married. I adopted my daughter. I’m coming from a different lens. I’m actually very curious. I kind of want to let her wash over me and where will we meet up? All I can talk about really is where I was then, and I was so intimidated to play her. I felt like she was so out of my depths, and I struggled so hard to sort of find my footing with her early on and throughout rehearsals and stuff.
I always felt like I was like wearing my mom’s clothes and I didn’t feel like I was in her skin. I eventually sort of got there, but it took me a long time. I’m intimidated and scared, but for different reasons, mainly just because I’m like older and I’m a little more tired. I’m curious what the jumping off point will be this time around. I know that I have found her, so I do have like that sort of confidence that she is in there, but I’m curious.
On preparing physically to take on the role again
Physically, I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m probably stronger now than I was when I started 10 years ago just because I’ve been working out with [trainer] Beth [Nicely]. Now what she makes me do is she makes me jump rope and sing at the same time. And then she makes me do all these crazy things and she’s like, “Okay, you’re going to sing.” And I’m like, “But I can’t breathe.” That’s the biggest thing with Reno is that she’s dancing, dancing, dancing, and then she turns around and she sings and it never, ever got easier. You know, it was always a challenge. It was always so hard.
Because with Reno too, there’s no effort. Everything’s like, “Oh yeah, what this? Piece of cake.” That’s like half the battle because inside you’re dying and then outside you have to be like, “No big deal. I do this all the time.”
On staying creative while theatres were shut
I actually worked on some music with some friends. One of the things that kept popping up is that everyone had like their own little home recording studios and their closets and stuff, and so we would like make music. My music director came up with an arrangement and then one person would lay down their part and another person would lay down their part.
We were constantly trying to stay creative and exercising a lot, doing a lot of dance cardio. One of my best friends who’s in the theatre, we started an online cooking show. We were just trying to come up with to be creative. I love to do a lot of creative things. I love to crochet and draw, and I love to cook and I gardened, and so I did a lot of stuff like that too. So it was, in a different way, a prolific time.
On how she’s spending her time in London
On my days off, we have a family fun day. My daughter is four-years-old. The things we’ve enjoyed the most are the playgrounds and parks. Our favourite thing as a family has been the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park – we couldn’t get her out of it. We’ve been touring all the great parks. I love looking at all the flowers. We’re having an amazing time. It’s great being able to explore a new city.