Billboard on Broadway Podcast: Sutton Foster on How Her Time on Broadway & TV Led to New 'Take Me to the World' Album

Sutton Foster
Jenny Anderson

Sutton Foster

There are few Broadway stars as universally beloved and revered as Sutton Foster. Since her 2009 debut in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Foster has won scores of fans with her brightly brilliant voice, stellar dancing and instantly likeable stage presence -- and with six more starring roles on Broadway under her belt since Millie, she's become a television star as well, first on the cult-favorite Amy Sherman-Palladino series Bunheads and more recently on TV Land's hit Younger.

The latest development in Foster's varied career: a new album on Ghostlight Records, Take Me to the World, on which she sings tunes old (Cole Porter, James Taylor, Stephen Sondheim) and newer (Jason Robert Brown, Shaina Taub, Jeanine Tesori), in collaboration with drama students at Ball State University (where Foster has taught for several years now).

On this episode of the Billboard on Broadway podcast, Foster chats with host Rebecca Milzoff about her diverse roles and the process of making Take Me to the World. After making her Broadway debut at the head of a large company, Foster says she needed to step back and find a show that would allow her to be part of an ensemble (that was The Drowsy Chaperone). It turned out she loved creating as part of a group -- an attitude that carried through to the making of Take Me to the World. "It was really important to me that the album feel like a collaboration," Foster says. "It's taken years and years to get to where I am in 2018 as an artist and a person." The album, she says, is "like a time capsule."

Over the years, Foster's career has diversified as well. She discusses how she started to teach musical theater students almost a decade ago even as her own career was still evolving, and her longstanding relationship with composer Jeanine Tesori, with whom she's worked on three big shows ("She's a total badass. I would follow her anywhere."), along with the impact of her daughter Emily's birth on her creative choices. The album, she says, is reflective of her musical upbringing. "I grew up in the '70s. I love folk," Foster says. "I would love to do a whole James Taylor album, or John Denver too." 

Though she's enjoying starring in a successful TV series right now, Foster says she's eager to get back to the theater soon. "Younger came at a really great time. I was starting to experience some burnout, performing live, and Younger was a whole new thing I got to learn," she explains. "But I would love to do another show if it's the right thing. I've got irons in the fire. ... I really want it to feel like something challenging and exciting."