Childhood & Early Life
Sutton Foster was born on March 18, 1975 to Bob Foster and Helen Foster. She was born in Statesboro, Georgia, but was raised in Troy, Michigan, as her family moved there. She is the younger sister of the famous Broadway actor, Hunter Foster.
Her father was an employee at the General Motors. Foster was an energetic child and began taking dance lessons at the age of four, and began singing at ten. Years later, she landed the starring role in a community theatre production, ‘Annie’.
She was first seen on the television reality show, ‘Star Search’ when she was 15. In 1992, having moved with her family to suburban Detroit, Foster was cast in the national touring production, ‘The Will Rogers Follies’. She was then a student of Troy High School.
In 1993, Foster studied theatre at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for a year, before resuming her stage career in the national tour, ‘Grease’. She later joined the show’s Broadway cast as a replacement, followed by small roles in many Broadway musicals like ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’, and ‘Les Miserables’.
In between those productions, Foster performed a major role in ‘What the World Needs Now’, a musical fable.
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Foster made her Hollywood debut in 1989 with the short film, ‘Mr. Terbillion’s Ambition’. After which the actress did four more movies ‘Shrek the Musical’, ‘The Angriest Man in Brooklyn’, ‘The Nobodies’ and ‘Gravy’. She has also lent her voice in two movies ‘Just in Case’ and ‘Mired’.
Foster’s Broadway breakthrough came in 2000 when she was cast in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’, a musical based on the 1967 film about an independent-minded woman from 1920.
Although the show earned mixed reviews, Foster’s ability to portray the character of Millie was praised, and her performance was rewarded with the Tony Award for the best actress in a musical.
Before ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ went to Broadway, she was selected for the chorus to replace the lead actress. Foster also recorded the solo CDs for the albums, ‘Wish’ in 2009 and ‘An Evening with Sutton Foster’ in 2011.
She marked her transition to television with the series, ‘Carnegie Hall’, where the lead character was offered to her. The drama gained high ratings which led the director to continue the series for the next four seasons.
Meanwhile, she starred in the miniseries, ‘Gilmore Girls’ along with her ex-husband Christian Borle. Although Foster became popular for her television roles, she remained active with her broadways projects like ‘Little Women’ in 2005, an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, and as the showgirl Janet Van De Graff in ‘The Drowsy Chaperon’, a spoof on the early Broadway musicals. Both the performances earned her Tony Awards nominations.
Foster then appeared in two new musicals that were based on films, ‘Young Frankenstein’ in 2007 and ‘Shrek the Musical’ in 2008. For the latter role, she received her fourth Tony Awards nomination and is set for its next tour in 2017.
After an Off-Broadway detour with the dark comedy, ‘Trust’ in 2010, Foster took on the role of a nightclub singer, Reno Sweeney in the 2011 Broadway revival of Cole Porter’s musical, ‘Anything Goes’, which earned her second best-actress Tony Award.
Foster started her own dance workshops at Ball State University in Muncie. In 2012, she co-directed a play at the university and received an honorary doctorate from them.
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In the title role of the 2014 Broadway musical, ‘Violet’, Foster portrayed a struggling young woman who bears a horrible scar on her face from a childhood accident. In 2016, Foster returned to Off-Broadway with a revival of the musical, ‘Sweet Charity’.
Apart from being an actress, she is also an art lover. She is known for making artworks, which she paints occasionally and is known for selling them online or at art exhibitions. She has also collaborated with the renowned dress designer, Julien Havard. They exhibited their first collaborative work on August 16, 2013.
As An Actress
Thoroughly Modern Millie – Foster played the lead in this musical which is the Broadway adaptation of the film of the same name, released in 1967. For the 2002 act, Foster played the character of Millie Dillmount, a materialistic woman from Kansas.
Shrek the Musical – Foster played Princess Fiona in this musical which is based on the animated movie, ‘Shrek’. It was premiered in Seattle in 2008 and then was showcased in countries including Israel, Germany and Poland.
Violet – This musical is an adaptation of the short story, ‘The Ugliest Pilgrim’, written by Doris Betts. Foster played the title character in the 2014 tour. Her character was that of an ill woman who travels by bus all the way to her hometown with a hope of recovery.
Gravy – Foster starred in this comic-horror flick along with Michael Weston. She played Kerry, a bartender who later becomes a healthcare professional. The film had a theatrical release on October 2, 2015 for a limited period of time and was later released online on October 6, 2015.
Awards & Achievements
Tony Award (2002) – This prestigious award was presented to Foster under the category Best Lead Actress in a Musical for ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’.
Outer Critics Circle Award (2009) – Foster won the award under the category Outstanding Actress in a Musical for ‘Shrek the Musical’.
Gracie Awards (2013) – Foster received the award under the category ‘Outstanding Female Actor’ for her breakthrough role in ‘Bunheads’.
Foster met her first husband, Christian Borle in college, whom she married in 2006, but the marriage did not last long and the couple separated in 2010.
Despite their divorce, the couple held their friendship intact. Between 2010 and 2011, Sutton was dating actor Bobby Cannavale. In 2013, she started dating her current husband, screenwriter Ted Griffin. The couple tied the knot in late 2014 and they have been together since.