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Sutton Foster Biography - Biography
Sutton Foster

Sutton Foster Biography

Singer, Theater Actress, Television Actress (1975–)
Sutton Foster rose to fame as a Tony Award-winning stage actress in 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' and 'Anything Goes,' before finding success on TV in 'Younger.'

Who Is Sutton Foster?

Born in Georgia in 1975, Sutton Foster first dazzled audiences in a local production of Annie at age 10. After appearing in big-name productions through the 1990s, her career took off with the lead in Thoroughly Modern Millie, earning a Tony when the show moved to Broadway in 2002. Leading roles in The Drowsy Chaperone and Shrek: The Musical followed, before the star snagged a second Tony in 2011 for her stunning all-around performance in Anything Goes. Foster has also become known for her work on the small screen, particularly as the 40-something divorcée attempting to blend in with millennials on Younger, and has released three albums.

Sutton Foster Photo

Sutton Foster attends American Theatre Wing's 69th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015 in New York City. 

Sutton Foster's Theater Roles

The Big Break: 'Thoroughly Modern Millie'

In 2000 Foster was preparing as an understudy and ensemble member in the La Jolla Playhouse production of Thoroughly Modern Millie when, shortly before opening night, she learned the lead had fallen ill and was presented with the job. Jumping in without missing a beat, she impressed as the titular Millie, the 1920s Kansas girl looking to make it big in the Big Apple, earning more raves after the show moved to Broadway in 2002. That year she won the Tony and Drama Desk awards for Best Actress in a Musical, cementing her place as one of the industry's brightest young talents.

'Little Women' to 'Shrek'

Continuing her success on Broadway, Foster originated the roles of Jo in Little Women (2005) and Janet Van de Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone (2006), earning Tony nominations for both. She then took on roles originally known to fans of the big screen, as the assistant Inga in Young Frankenstein (2007) and Princess Fiona in Shrek: The Musical (2008), showcasing her goofy and captivating charms.

Tony No. 2 for 'Anything Goes'

In 2011 Foster embarked on the second defining role of her stage career as the female lead for Anything Goes. Unlike with Millie, she was filling some formidable shoes in the role of Reno Sweeney, previously inhabited by icons Ethel Merman and Patti LuPone. Furthermore, there was the sheer physical demands of the performance, which included an extravagant eight-minute tap number to close out the first act. But Foster nailed the part with her exuberance, showmanship and powerhouse vocals, garnering her second Tony and a slew of other awards.

'Violet' and 'Sweet Charity'

The normally sunny Foster dove into more emotionally complex material with Violet (2014), as a Civil Rights-era woman looking to be healed from a disfiguring childhood accident. She also capably handled the nuances of the 2016 Off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity, as a dance hall hostess looking for love.

Sutton Foster on TV

'Bunheads' and 'Younger'

In 2012 Foster began starring on ABC Family's Bunheads, as a former Las Vegas showgirl who starts teaching at her mother-in-law's ballet school. The comedy-drama earned largely positive reviews, with Foster singled out for her comic sensibilities, but failed to survive for a second season.

She fared better with TV Land's Younger, as a 40-something divorcée who finds her way back into a crowded workforce by pretending to be in her mid-20s. The show clicked thanks to its star's ability to convincingly swing between the two ages, and was set to begin its fifth season in June 2018.

'Flight of the Conchords,' 'Gilmore Girls,' and Other Appearances

Amid her thriving theater career, Foster began branching out to television. She landed a three-episode run on HBO's Flight of the Conchords in 2007, as the love interest of co-star Bret McKenzie, and followed with appearances in Law & Order: SVU and Royal Pains.

Foster later surfaced in other popular programs like Psych and The Good Wife, but her greatest thrill around that time was getting to join the cast of the 2016 Gilmore Girls revival. Calling it her "favorite show of all time," she said she was so overwhelmed by scenes with Lauren Graham's Lorelai Gilmore that she started crying afterward.

Albums and Performances

Along with her years of belting out songs on Broadway, Foster has performed shows at famous venues like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and showcased her vocal gifts with three albums. Wish (2009) and Take Me to the World (2018) both feature a mix of theater and pop standards, from the likes of Duke Ellington, Carole King, Stephen Sondheim and James Taylor. Her second album, An Evening with Sutton Foster: Live at the Café Carlyle (2011), was recorded during her one-woman cabaret tour.

How Tall Is Sutton Foster?

Whether it's showing off her long legs with breathtaking kicks or towering over co-stars, the actress and performer cuts quite a presence at 5 feet 9 inches.

Husband and Family

Following their engagement in August 2013, Foster married screenwriter Ted Griffin in October 2014. In April 2017, they welcomed an adopted baby girl, Emily, into the family. 

"I've always been a fan of adoption and it just seemed natural — as soon as we started pursuing adoption, it was as if heavens opened up," she told People. "It was a really beautiful and amazing journey to find her, and I feel like we found each other."

Foster was previously married to fellow Broadway star Christian Borle, from 2006 to 2010.

Childhood and Early Career

Lenore Sutton Foster was born March 18, 1975, in Statesboro, Georgia. While dad Robert moved the family frequently as part of his job for General Motors, mom Helen encouraged Foster and her big brother, Hunter, towards the performing arts. Foster began dancing at age four, and by age seven had discovered tap.

At age 10, she was talked into auditioning for a local production of Annie, landing her first memorable starring role. She fell short in a competition on Star Search at age 15, but at 17 she was on the move in a touring production of The Will Rogers Follies.

Sutton enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University in 1993, but lasted just one year before resuming her pursuit of a theater career. She went on to ensemble roles in Grease, Annie, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Les Misérables, also showcasing impressive singing chops in What the World Needs Now: A Musical Fable, based on the Burt Bacharach-Hal David song partnership.

All in the Family

Foster sports some close ties in the entertainment world: She's performed with big brother Hunter from their days of community theater, going on to appear with him in Grease and Les Mis in the 1990s. They reunited on the small screen in 2013, for three episodes of Bunheads.

Similarly, Foster has shared professional space with Borle, both before and after they were married. They two starred in a San Jose production of The 3 Musketeers in 2001, and in 2003 he joined the cast of Thoroughly Modern Millie. The exes later appeared together in the Gilmore Girls reunion, and in 2018, Borle was scheduled to guest star in Younger.

Art and Faculty Work

After her longtime dresser, Julien Havard, moved on to a career in visual arts, Foster began realizing her own passions in that field. She says she enjoys creating pen and ink drawings and collage work on wood board, and has produced prints of her characters from leading roles. In 2011 she was given a joint exhibition with her old partner in crime, Harvard, at the Hyannis Harbor Arts Center in Massachusetts.

Foster has also served as a theater and dance faculty member at New York University and Ball State University, earning an honorary doctorate from the latter in 2011.

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