If two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster sends you a text that reads: “Do you tap dance?,” you can probably bet there’s a good reason she’s suddenly interested in your fancy footwork.
The singer/actress, currently starring on TV Land’s Younger, sent that exact message to her co-star — and on-screen boyfriend — Nico Tortorella, who responded, “Uhm, yes? I have. What do you have in mind?”
Turns out, Foster had the perfect opportunity for the actor/model, who grew up doing musical theater, but had never done it professionally. She needed a partner for a song-and-dance routine in her upcoming series of concerts, and thought he would be perfect.
Tortorella said yes, and will be seen with Foster at her four shows between Feb. 18 and 21 in Maryland.
“He’s just one of my favorite people in the world,” Foster tells Billboard, “and he’s so super game… I think it’s his first time ever doing anything like this, and he’s so singular and unlike anybody I’ve ever met. I’m super excited that he’s going to be able to join me for it.”
On Younger, Foster plays a 40-year-old woman who pretends to be 26 in order to get a publishing job. Tortorella plays her much younger love interest, who initially doesn’t know her character’s true age.
So, does their onstage collaboration mean the pair will drop a single anytime soon? “That’s hilarious. Wouldn’t that be cool?” Foster says. She jokes that after their Younger co-star — and Billboard chart-topper — Hilary Duff released a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies” to promote the series, they thought, “‘Hey, what about us?’ So who knows, this might be the beginning of something!”
When prompted for possible duets, Foster offers appropriate selections like “You Make Me Feel So Young” and “Younger Than Springtime.” (Some more choice song ideas Billboard failed to mention: “We Are Young,” “Young Girl” and “P.Y.T. [Pretty Young Thing].”)
Foster, who won Tony Awards for her leading roles in the musicals Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes, says her upcoming concerts will be “eclectic.” Backed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Foster will perform Broadway tunes along with selections from the Great American Songbook and more.
The shows will give Foster an opportunity to bring together her fan bases — those that may only be familiar with her from starring in TV shows like Younger and Bunheads, and those that know her as a Broadway A-lister from musicals like The Drowsy Chaperone, Shrek: The Musical, Violet and Little Women.
Foster says, “there is a whole new audience of people that really have no idea about my stage background. So it is cool to be able to say, ‘Hey look, I also do this other thing.’ And to be able to combine all of it. Especially because Younger doesn’t have any singing and dancing.”
Might Foster warble a tune in Younger someday? Don’t count on it.
“I actually said to [show creator and executive producer] Darren Star, when we started, I said ‘Please don’t write some karaoke scene where I have to sing.’ And he goes, ‘You know, I don’t think this character sings.’ … The show is about so many other things than that. And I think if my character did sing, I don’t think she would sing well.
“It’s actually kind of nice to work on something that doesn’t have that element as a part of it,” Foster says of Younger. “So that’s what also makes these concerts so great, because it’s a way for me to keep my foot in that world.” (Foster was last on Broadway in August of 2014 in Violet.)
In addition to her TV and stage roles, she’s also released two albums: Wish in 2009 (which reached No. 29 on the Heatseekers Albums chart) and An Evening With Sutton Foster: Live at the Café Carlyle in 2011.
Foster is “working on a third album” with her music director Michael Rafter, and says they are “very, very, very, very close to recording it.” She says it would be a “dream” to record an album with a symphony, but also says that the set could also be a live recording, or perhaps something “super small.”
Foster will hit the stage, along with Tortorella, on Feb. 18 at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Md., and Feb. 19-21 at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, Md. TV Land’s Younger airs Wednesdays on the network, and was recently renewed for a third season.