Sutton Foster: Really, Anything Goes Broadway darling Sutton Foster talks about losing on Star Search, winning two Tony Awards, and playing a 40-year-old pretending to be a 26-year-old on TV.

Sutton Foster: Really, Anything Goes

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR and WNYC. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and with me is our house musician, Jonathan Coulton, and our puzzle guru, Greg Pliska. But right now let's welcome our very important puzzler, Sutton Foster.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Well, hello.

SUTTON FOSTER: Hi, how are you?

EISENBERG: Good. Welcome to the show.

FOSTER: Thank you.

EISENBERG: Now, I love your new show on TV Land, "Younger." You play a 40-year-old woman that is pretending to be 26 so she can get back in the workforce.

FOSTER: Yes.

EISENBERG: When they come to you with a script like that, are you totally flattered that you are being asked to play a role where a 40-year-old is playing 26?

FOSTER: I...

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: I was flattered, but then also, like, stressed out about it - about, like - now I became, like, more aware of, like, every wrinkle and sag. And I was - you know, it's, like, all of a sudden, I was like, oh, my job, like, longevity depends on, like, how long I can pull off this ruse. So I - all of a sudden, I was buying, like, a lot of face creams and sort of panicking. But it was - what's great is that I'm actually a - the character is 40 trying to pull off 26. If I was actually trying to play a 26-year-old, I'd be screwed. So it's great because I always think when Dustin Hoffman was in "Tootsie," did you ever really believe that he was a woman? You always knew that there - so I was like, oh, that's good, OK, yeah, yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: So I was like, I can - you got to - it's important to see both sides, so yeah.

EISENBERG: What were you like at 26?

FOSTER: Oh, God.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: Twenty-six, I was a mess. I was, like, a - you know, I was like a flip-flop and flailing mess disaster person.

EISENBERG: Were you in New York at 26?

FOSTER: I was. I was starring in "Thoroughly Modern Millie."

EISENBERG: Oh.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: OK, so you kind of had it together.

FOSTER: No, no.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: I'm a very good actor. But that was like a crazy time, and it was a lot for a 26-year-old to sort of figure out and handle and navigate.

EISENBERG: Now you auditioned for "Thoroughly Modern Millie."

FOSTER: I did. I auditioned, like, five or six times and didn't get it.

EISENBERG: Didn't get it.

FOSTER: Didn't get it, no. I really, really wanted it, and - but I didn't. I didn't get it. And then I called my agent and said, if they need an understudy, I'll be the understudy. And they were like, yeah, they'll take you as the understudy. That'd be great. So I was like, got it, yay. So I - we did it out of town. And then about a week before we started performances, the lead got sick, and I stepped in to rehearse for her. And then at the end of the week, they said the role was mine if I wanted it. And then, I started freaking out, and I was like, what? You're making a mistake. Like, why are you doing this? And then it all happened. It was crazy. Like...

EISENBERG: I mean, that is, like, the most unbelievable story. It is the - now did she get sick, or did you sort of...

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: I threw marbles down the stairs, and...

EISENBERG: That's amazing. And then, you win the Tony for it.

FOSTER: Yeah.

EISENBERG: And after you win a Tony, do you have to audition still after that, or is that...

FOSTER: Yeah, I auditioned for "The Drowsy Chaperone."

EISENBERG: You did.

FOSTER: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Wow.

FOSTER: (Laughter) I brought my Tony with me, though, of course.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: It's just...

EISENBERG: Your brother is also in the biz.

FOSTER: Yes...

(CHEERS)

FOSTER: My brother, Hunter Foster, yeah.

EISENBERG: Did your parents force you guys to get into theater?

FOSTER: No, we grew up in a very small town in Georgia. My dad worked for General Motors. My mom wanted to be a model when she was growing up, but - and she grew up in a small town in North Carolina. I mean, she wanted to move to New York. Her father said, no. And so she got married and had kids. And then when her children showed any sign of wanting to do something unconventional, she completely supported us. So we - I started dancing when I was 4. And I started getting involved in community theater through my dance studio. They needed dancers for a production of "Annie" when I was 10 at the Augusta Players in Augusta, Ga., and I got Annie. And then after that, it was, like, all over. And I was like anybody - and then I was singing for everybody, and it was obnoxious.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: So I went through a real long obnoxious period which is still continuing and just would sing at any account to anyone who could hear.

EISENBERG: And you were on "Star Search" at 15.

FOSTER: I was.

EISENBERG: So how did that go?

FOSTER: I lost.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: It was horrible. I lost, and I cried. I was so sad. But I lost to this guy named Richard Blake who's actually now a Broadway performer. And so every time I see him, I give him squint...

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: I give him squinty eyes 'cause he beat me by a quarter star.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Now, in addition, I was talking about you're a triple threat; you sing, you dance, you act obviously in theater, on television. And you have supplied a prize for the winner of the show tonight. You have baked them...

FOSTER: I baked cookies.

EISENBERG: You baked cookies.

FOSTER: Well, you said you wanted a prize. And I was like I didn't know what to bring.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: So I made double chocolate chip cookies.

(APPLAUSE)

FOSTER: I'm - we're on, like - they're really good, too. We're on hiatus right now...

EISENBERG: Yeah.

FOSTER: ...'Cause our show got picked up so we...

EISENBERG: Congratulations.

FOSTER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

FOSTER: So we start filming again in September. So I've been, like, trying to keep busy, so I've been doing a lot of baking.

EISENBERG: Are you - are you a big baker before?

FOSTER: I'm not - I mean, the cookies are very good, but I'm in the learning process.

EISENBERG: OK, and where did you get this recipe from?

FOSTER: Where's the recipe from? Oh, I wanted to make double chocolate chip cookies so I put in the Google double chocolate chip cookies.

EISENBERG: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Absolutely.

FOSTER: And it was, like, one of the first ones that came up.

EISENBERG: All right, Sutton, we're going to give you your own ASK ME ANOTHER challenge in a little while...

FOSTER: OK.

EISENBERG: ...But right now, you've graciously offered to help us with a game.

FOSTER: Yes.

EISENBERG: So one more hand for Sutton Foster.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right, let's say hello to our next contestants Dan Nascimento and Brittany Correia.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Dan, you're a "Murder, She Wrote" super fan?

DAN NASCIMENTO: Yeah, I am.

EISENBERG: OK.

NASCIMENTO: I am.

EISENBERG: What exactly does that entail?

NASCIMENTO: That means I've cycled through the entire show I want to say five times on Netflix. And so there's 12 seasons...

EISENBERG: Yeah.

NASCIMENTO: ...So it's like 250 episodes.

EISENBERG: So is it the kind of thing you watch and then you're like everything's going to be OK?

NASCIMENTO: Yeah, well, that's the other thing. I know, like, there's going to be a nice conclusion at the end. And the bad person's going to get, you know, caught.

EISENBERG: That's right. It's very satisfying.

NASCIMENTO: Although I do have a theory that she's a serial killer.

(LAUGHTER)

NASCIMENTO: But a genius serial killer. I mean, who is around 250 murders that's not a cop? I'm just saying.

EISENBERG: Now, Brittany, you're a sociology major.

BRITTANY CORREIA: Correct.

EISENBERG: So I know everyone goes, oh, what are you going to do with that? But I'm not going to ask you that. What are you not going to do with your sociology degree?

CORREIA: That is a very good question 'cause there are so many things that I could do. I will travel the world with my lovely degree and hopefully grad degree after that...

EISENBERG: OK.

CORREIA: ...Because that's pretty much what you can do after that.

(LAUGHTER)

CORREIA: That's the smarter option so...

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's good.

CORREIA: Yeah.

EISENBERG: All right, well, your game is called Really Anything Goes, and it's a music game so I turn it over to Jonathan Coulton.

(APPLAUSE)

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: So this is a very complicated premise, so just bear with me as I explain it. We've rewritten the lyrics to the Cole Porter classic "Anything Goes" to be about words that rhyme with goes. What better person to lead this game than Sutton who won a Tony for singing this song on Broadway?

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Sutton, my deepest apologies for what we're about to make you do.

NASCIMENTO: Yeah.

FOSTER: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: And just ring in when you know the answer, and we want you to sing the line. So if the answer is - if we're clueing the word, say, bows, you would sing (singing) anything bows.

FOSTER: That was good.

COULTON: Thanks very much.

FOSTER: You're welcome.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: All right, and Sutton's going to sing.

FOSTER: I am. (Singing) They're frat-boy dudes who like to party. Their love team of sports is hearty come before [expletive].

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Dan?

NASCIMENTO: (Singing) Anything bros.

COULTON: That's right.

FOSTER: Yay.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: That's from kegger the musical.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: That's good, that's good. I see it. OK, (singing) there's some on top like Jonas Biden (ph) and some whose careers are sliding like Piscopo's.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Brittany.

CORREIA: Oh, I'm going to toss that one over to Dan.

COULTON: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Oh, Brittany.

NASCIMENTO: (Singing) Anything Joes.

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.

FOSTER: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

FOSTER: (Singing) If going to market you like, if staying home you like, if roast beef you like, if having none you like, if crying out you like, there's no doubt you like your feet, fingers to pose.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Brittany.

CORREIA: (Singing) Anything toes.

COULTON: Yeah.

FOSTER: Yay.

(APPLAUSE)

CORREIA: The roast beef threw me off a little bit.

NASCIMENTO: Yeah, yeah.

CORREIA: That was, like, kind of the odd man out.

NASCIMENTO: Yeah, I didn't get that at all.

CORREIA: I was like, all right.

FOSTER: That one was a little hard.

NASCIMENTO: Yeah.

COULTON: You're not wrong that it's...

CORREIA: Should've had the piggys in there somewhere.

COULTON: Yeah...

FOSTER: Right.

COULTON: ...It is strange to mention roast beef in a song about toes.

CORREIA: Yes, yes, I must say.

(LAUGHTER)

CORREIA: But I guess anything goes.

FOSTER: Oh.

COULTON: Yeah, well done. Well done.

FOSTER: (Singing) If on the ocean something's floating that interferes with your boating and that thing froze.

COULTON: Does anybody know the answer?

AUDIENCE: Anything floes.

NASCIMENTO: Oh, my god.

COULTON: Yeah, floes. F, L, O, E, S like an ice floe.

NASCIMENTO: OK.

CORREIA: That is cheap.

NASCIMENTO: Well, yeah.

COULTON: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

NASCIMENTO: Yeah, oh well.

FOSTER: (Singing) If Homer Simpson wants brewski, there's nothing else he can do-ski (ph). Guess where he goes?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Brittany.

CORREIA: (Singing) Anything Moe's.

COULTON: Yeah.

FOSTER: Yeah, there we go.

(APPLAUSE)

FOSTER: (Singing) I'm wearing a shirt today and a skirt today and a belt today to look svelte today and a coat today up to my throat today so none of my skin shows.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: That was great.

FOSTER: Thank you.

COULTON: Fantastic.

(LAUGHTER)

CORREIA: That was perfect.

NASCIMENTO: Fantastic.

CORREIA: It's us, it's not you.

NASCIMENTO: Yeah, it's us, it's us.

COULTON: Things she's wearing, rhymes with goes.

(LAUGHTER)

CORREIA: Thank you for that clarification.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: I'm just saying.

NASCIMENTO: (Singing) Anything clothes.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Which I would kind of like to see that store I've decided.

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Anything clothes.

COULTON: Anything clothes.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Yeah, that would be good, right? Like where you shop when you've given up.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: This is your last clue, so make it count.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: (Singing) On weekend days we fix our houses and where we - do we drag our spouses? No Home Depots.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Dan.

NASCIMENTO: (Singing) Anything Lowe's.

COULTON: Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Ophira, I hope you were keeping track.

EISENBERG: I was keeping track.

COULTON: Who won that game?

EISENBERG: Tight game, tight game. But Dan will be moving on to our final round at the end of the show.

(APPLAUSE)

CORREIA: Good game, good game.

NASCIMENTO: You too.

EISENBERG: And thank you so much to Sutton Foster for lending her talent.

FOSTER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

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