Sutton Foster

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Sutton Foster
Sutton Foster 2011.jpg
Foster in July 2011
Sutton Lenore Foster

(1975-03-18) March 18, 1975 (age 44)
EducationCarnegie Mellon University
OccupationActress, singer, dancer
Years active1989–present
Christian Borle
(m. 2006; div. 2010)

Ted Griffin (m. 2014)
RelativesHunter Foster (brother)

Sutton Lenore Foster (born March 18, 1975) is an American actress, singer and dancer. She is known for her work on the Broadway stage, for which she has received two Tony Awards for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, in 2002 for her role as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and in 2011 for her performance as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. Her other Broadway credits include Little Women, The Drowsy Chaperone, Young Frankenstein, Shrek the Musical, and Violet. On television, Foster played the lead role in the short-lived ABC Family comedy-drama Bunheads from 2012 to 2013. Since March 2015, she has starred in the TV Land comedy-drama Younger.

Early life and education[edit]

Foster was born in Statesboro, Georgia, and raised in Troy, Michigan.[1] At the age of 15, she was a contestant on the reality competition show Star Search[1][2] and also auditioned for the cast of The Mickey Mouse Club. She left Troy High School before graduating (she received her diploma via correspondence courses) to join the national tour of The Will Rogers Follies directed by Tommy Tune.[1][3][4] She then attended Carnegie Mellon University for one year,[4][5] but left to pursue a theatrical career full-time. In May 2012, she received an honorary doctorate from Ball State University, "in recognition of her outstanding career in theater, television and music and for her contributions to the educational experience and professional growth of Ball State students."[6]

Her older brother is actor Hunter Foster.[1][4]


1995–2001: Early Career[edit]

After touring in the role of Sandy Dumbrowski in the musical Grease throughout 1995, Foster transferred to the Broadway production in 1996.[7][8] She left to appear in the ensemble of the Broadway musical The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1997, and after that closed[9] she returned as the Star to Be in the revival of Annie. This was followed in 1998 by a role in What the World Needs Now at the Old Globe Theatre, before she began touring with Les Misérables as Eponine Thenardier. She understudied the role on Broadway in 2000.[10]

Foster ultimately left Les Misérables to appear in the ensemble of the pre-Broadway run of Thoroughly Modern Millie at the La Jolla Playhouse. However, leading lady Kristin Chenoweth backed out, and after Erin Dilly turned down the job, Foster eventually took over the role of Millie Dilmount.[11][12] During a Millie hiatus, Foster appeared in Dorian at Goodspeed Musicals, The Three Musketeers at the American Musical Theatre of San Jose, and South Pacific at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.

2002–2010: Breakthrough and stage success[edit]

Thoroughly Modern Millie finally opened on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre in 2002, to many positive reviews. The New York Daily News reviewer described her thus: "newcomer Sutton Foster, who has the pert look, the silver voice and the dazzling legwork to make an extraordinarily winning Millie."[13] Clive Barnes, reviewing for the New York Post wrote "Newcomer Sutton Foster's own star turn as Millie is perfectly charming, but as a star she doesn't twinkle, glitter or light up Broadway like a Christmas tree defying a July noon. But she has a good voice and is cutely agreeable."[14] The Newsday reviewer wrote: "She has a smile that may remind you of Mary Tyler Moore, the gawky comic precision of the young Carol Burnett, the lyricism of a romantic heroine and a smallish but vibrant voice as accurate as it is expressive. As [Millie], another of New York's prototypical small-town girls with big-city dreams, [Sutton Foster] appears unfazed by the burden of a character created onscreen by Julie Andrews. The newcomer takes the big stage with an uninhibited what-the-heck comfort level and the discipline to go with her instincts."[15] Time Magazine wrote: "she's [Sutton Foster] got the full package: girlish gawkiness and Broadway brass, the legs and the lungs. Foster is a big reason the show is just about the cutest thing to hit Broadway since Annie's dimples, with perkily retro songs by Jeanine Tesori and clever staging by director Michael Mayer..."[16] Foster went on to win the 2002 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical,[17] the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical,[18] and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance.[19][20] During the run, Foster appeared in concert versions of Chess and Funny Girl, before leaving in 2004.

Upon leaving, Foster did a concert version of Snoopy! The Musical and returned to the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera for a production of Me and My Girl to wrap up the year. In May 2005, Foster co-starred as Jo March opposite Maureen McGovern as Marmee in the musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women, for which she was nominated for her second Tony Award.[21] The production closed after just a few months.

She returned to Broadway at the Marquis Theatre in May 2006 in The Drowsy Chaperone, a spoof of 1920s musicals. She played Janet van de Graaff, a famous Broadway starlet who opts to forgo a stage career in favor of married life. The musical had a pre-Broadway run at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles in November to December 2005.[22] Her performance earned her a third Tony nomination.[23]

Foster left the musical in 2007 and co-starred in Mel Brooks' musical adaptation of his film Young Frankenstein as the Swedish yodeling fraulein Inga, first at the Paramount Theatre and then on Broadway from October 2007 to July 2008.[24]

In 2007, Foster guest-starred on the children's musical puppet show Johnny and the Sprites[25] and in a three-episode story arc on the HBO sitcom Flight of the Conchords.[26]

She left the show to play Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical, which opened on Broadway on December 14, 2008.[27] For this role, Foster won her second Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical[28] and was nominated for her fourth Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.[29] She played her final performance on January 3, 2010, when the show closed on Broadway. Foster participated in a reading of a work-in-progress new musical, Bonnie and Clyde: A Folktale, in June 2009. Her brother, Hunter is writing the music for this musical.[30]

Foster's debut solo album Wish was released by Ghostlight Records in February 2009. The songs range from jazz to pop to cabaret to Broadway.[31] In 2010, Foster promoted the album with concert performances in Boston, New York City, Chicago, the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Orange County, California, and Washington, D.C.[32]

Foster starred as Nurse Fay Apple in the New York City Center's Encores! production of Anyone Can Whistle, which played from April 8 to April 11, 2010.[33] Foster made her Off-Broadway debut in Paul Weitz's comedy Trust with Zach Braff, Bobby Cannavale and Ari Graynor which began previews July 23, 2010 with an official opening August 12, running through September 12, 2010 at Second Stage Theatre.[34] Foster and Seth Rudetsky participated in the one night only Actors Fund benefit concert version of They're Playing Our Song on August 30, 2010 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College, New York. The full cast included Efé, Kaitlyn Davidson, Alex Ellis, Maynard, Matt Loehr, and Jesse Nager, and was directed by Denis Jones.[35]

Foster taught a Spring Semester master class at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Undergraduate Department of Drama, beginning in January 2010. It culminated in a cabaret performance at Joe's Pub in May titled "From Rodgers To Heart".[36][37] She taught the master class again in Fall Semester 2010, culminating in another performance at Joe's Pub, "Crazy for Gershwin". Both were musically directed by Deborah Abramson. She is now on the faculty of NYU's New Studio on Broadway. Foster taught a week-long master class session at Ball State University (Muncie, IN) in January 2010.[30] She continued her relationship with Ball State in September 2010 by working with students in the classroom, teaching master classes, and performing workshops for students of the Department of Theatre and Dance.

She also guest-starred in an episode of the NBC legal drama Law & Order: SVU (opposite comedian Kathy Griffin), which aired on March 3, 2010.[38]

Foster performed at the 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors in a tribute to Jerry Herman, singing "Before the Parade Passes By."[39] She performed at the Kennedy Center Honors the following year in a tribute to Barbara Cook.[40] She made a third appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2013, performing for the tribute to Shirley MacLaine.[41]

Foster performed a concert tour, An Evening With Sutton Foster from September 2010 to May 2011, performing songs from both her Broadway career and her solo album.[42]

2011–2014: Anything Goes and branching out[edit]

Foster played Reno Sweeney in the Broadway revival of Anything Goes, which began performances on March 10, 2011 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre and officially opened on April 7, 2011.[43] Foster won her third Outer Critics Circle Award and second Drama Desk Award and Tony Award for her performance.[44][45][46] Foster's final performance was on March 11, 2012, when she was replaced by Stephanie J. Block. Foster left to film the television comedy-drama Bunheads, which premiered on ABC Family on June 11, 2012.[47][48] Foster played the lead role in this short-lived 2012 ABC Family drama, developed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls. She played former Las Vegas showgirl Michelle, who impulsively marries a man, moves to his small town, and begins teaching ballet lessons at her new mother-in-law's dance studio. She won the Gracie Award and received a nomination at the 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.[49] The series was cancelled after a single season.

In the spring of 2012, she returned to Ball State, teaching classes, mentoring the interdisciplinary team that wrote the musical The Circus in Winter, and co-directing the Department of Theatre and Dance's Spring 2012 production of The Drowsy Chaperone; she also spoke at commencement and received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree for her continued engagement with Ball State students. Foster continued her relationship with Ball State in October 2012, performing in the staged reading of The Circus in Winter at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals at New World Stages in New York.[50]

In 2013, Foster starred as Kerry in Psych actor James Roday's comedic thriller Gravy.[51] In 2014, she appeared opposite Robin Williams in the comedy The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.[52]

From March to August 2014, Foster starred in the Roundabout Theatre Company production of the musical Violet at the American Airlines Theatre.[53] Foster received her sixth Tony Award nomination for her performance.[54]

2015–present: Younger, transition to television and return to Broadway[edit]

She made her Carnegie Hall debut in April 2015, with guest appearances from Joshua Henry and Megan McGinnis.[55][56] This was part of a new tour effort An Evening With Sutton Foster: Broadway In Concert, which continued through 2016.

She returned to Encores! in July 2015 to play Queenie in Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party. [57]

She later was cast as the lead character of Liza Miller in the TV Land single-camera comedy-drama pilot Younger, created by Darren Star. It was originally set to be released January 13, 2015 but she stated on January 31 in an interview at TETA TheatreFest 2015 in Houston, Texas that the release was delayed. The series premiered on March 31, 2015 and was renewed for a second season, which began airing in January 2016, shortly after it was renewed for a third season, set for a release at the end of the year. In July 2016, season three began filming, and the series was renewed for a fourth season.[52][58] Season three aired to positive reviews in late 2016, and season 4 aired in summer 2017 with further positive reviews.

In 2016, she starred opposite Aaron Tveit and Betty Buckley in the Stephen Schwartz revue Defying Gravity in Australia.

She appeared in the Off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity as Charity Hope Valentine at the Pershing Square Signature Center from November 2, 2016 (previews) to January 8, 2017.[59][60]

Also in 2016, Foster played the role of Violet in the miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life opposite her ex-husband, Christian Borle. The two perform a musical within the Summer episode about the history of Stars Hollow.[61] She appeared on the game show Match Game, broadcast on ABC in June 2016.[62] She also made guest appearances on The Good Wife and Mad Dogs.

In 2017, she once again returned to Ball State, this time to co-direct the Department of Theatre and Dance's Spring production of Shrek: The Musical.[63]

During December 2017, she performed as a guest artist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's annual Christmas concerts.[64]

In 2018 Sutton, along with other stars of stage and screen, such as Audra McDonald and Jonathan Groff, perform a selection of songs from many shows. This is the two-time Tony award winners Live From Lincoln Center performance from The Appel Room, originally aired on PBS on Friday, April 20, 2018.

In September 2020, she will return to Broadway, starring opposite Hugh Jackman as Marian Paroo in the revival of The Music Man.[65]

Personal life[edit]

Foster met actor Christian Borle in college,[66] and married him on September 18, 2006. During a radio interview in 2010, it was confirmed that Foster and Borle divorced.[67][68] Foster and Borle still remain friends and continue to support each other's work.[69][70] On September 19, 2013, Foster confirmed that she became engaged to screenwriter Ted Griffin.[71] She and Griffin married on October 25, 2014.[72] In April 2017, Foster announced that she and her husband adopted a baby girl, Emily Dale Griffin, born March 5, 2017.[73]

Foster is a self-proclaimed dog lover, and has had three dogs since her Broadway debut, Linus, Mabel, and Brody.[74]

She makes artwork which she sells online and occasionally at art exhibits. She has collaborated with visual artist Julien Havard, who previously worked as her dresser for nine years, beginning with Thoroughly Modern Millie. [75] [76]



Year Title Role Notes
1989 Mr. Terbillion's Ambition Sarah Short film
2008 Just in Case Boy (voice)
2013 Shrek the Musical Princess Fiona Filmed stage production
2014 The Angriest Man in Brooklyn[77] Adela
2014 The Nobodies[78] Amy Short film
2015 Gravy[79] Kerry
2016 Mired Wife (voice) Short film


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Star Search Herself/contestant Runner-up (3.5 stars)
2007 Johnny and the Sprites Tina Episode: "Johnny's Sister Tina/Spritesgiving!"
Flight of the Conchords Coco 3 episodes
2008 The Battery's Down Sutton Foster Episode: "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here"
2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Rosemary Episode: "P.C."
2011–12 Sesame Street Self 2 episodes
2012 Royal Pains Julie Sharp Episode: "Bottoms Up"
2012–13 Bunheads Michelle Simms Lead Role(18 episodes)
2013 Doc McStuffins Frida Fairy Flyer (voice) Episode: "Frida Fairy Flies Again"
2014 Psych Gretchen Eikleberry Episode: "A Nightmare on State Street"
Say Yes to the Dress Self Episode: "A Dress Like None the Rest"
2015–present Younger Liza Miller Lead role; 60 episodes
2015 Elementary Tara Parker Episode: "Absconded"
2016 Mad Dogs Gerda Episode: "Broodstock"
The Good Wife Witness Episode: "End"
Match Game Herself Episode #1.1
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Violet Episode: "Summer"
2018 Instinct Celia Walker Episode: "Bye Bye Birdie"
2019 Into the Dark Lauren Episode: "Treehouse"


Year Title Role Notes
1992 The Will Rogers Follies Ensemble National Tour
1995 Grease Sandy Dumbrowski (replacement) National tour
1996 Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Broadway
1997 Annie Star To Be/Dog Catcher/Cecille/Ronnie Boylan Martin Beck Theatre, Broadway
The Scarlet Pimpernel Ensemble Minskoff Theatre, Broadway
1998 What the World Needs Now Jennifer[80] Old Globe Theatre
1999 Les Misérables Eponine (replacement) National Tour
2000 Dorian Sister Claire[81] Goodspeed Musicals, World Premiere
Les Misérables Eponine u/s (replacement) Broadway
Thoroughly Modern Millie Millie Dilmount La Jolla Playhouse
2001 The 3hree Musketeers Constance[82] American Musical Theatre of San Jose
South Pacific Nellie Forbush[83] Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera
2002–04 Thoroughly Modern Millie Millie Dilmount Marquis Theatre, Broadway
2002 Funny Girl Fanny Brice[84] New Amsterdam Theatre, New York Actors Fund Concert
2003 Chess Svetlana[85][86] New York Actors Fund Concert
2004 Snoopy! The Musical[87] Peppermint Patty Peter Norton Symphony Space Benefit Concert
Me and My Girl Sally Smith[88] Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera
2005 Little Women Jo March Virginia Theatre, Broadway
The Drowsy Chaperone Janet Van de Graaf Ahmanson Theatre
2006–07 Marquis Theatre, Broadway
2007 Young Frankenstein Inga Paramount Theatre
2007–08 Hilton Theatre, Broadway
2008 Shrek The Musical Princess Fiona 5th Avenue Theatre
2008–10 Broadway Theatre, Broadway
2010 Anyone Can Whistle Nurse Fay Apple New York City Center, Encores!
They're Playing Our Song Sonia Walsk[35] Gerald W. Lynch Theatre at John Jay College, New York Actors Fund Concert
Trust Prudence Second Stage Theatre, off-Broadway
2011–12 Anything Goes Reno Sweeney Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Broadway
2013 Violet Violet Karl New York City Center, Encores!
2014 American Airlines Theatre, Broadway
2015 The Wild Party Queenie New York City Center, Encores!
2016 Defying Gravity: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz[89] Performer Musical revue; Theatre Royal, Sydney
2016–17 Sweet Charity Charity Hope Valentine Pershing Square Signature Center, Off-Broadway
2018 Thoroughly Modern Millie Millie Dilmount Minskoff Theatre; 15th Anniversary Reunion Concert, New York Actors Fund Concert
My One and Only Edythe Herbert Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company Benefit
2020 The Music Man Marian Paroo Broadway revival



  • An Evening with Sutton Foster (2010–11)
  • An Evening with Sutton Foster: Broadway in Concert (2015–16)
  • Live From Lincoln Center TV concert special (2018)

Awards and nominations[edit]


Sources:PlaybillVault[91] Internet Broadway Database[92] BroadwayWorld[93]

Note: The year given is the year of the ceremony

Tony Awards[edit]

Year Award Performance Result
2002 Best Actress in a Musical Thoroughly Modern Millie Won
2005 Little Women Nominated
2006 The Drowsy Chaperone Nominated
2009 Shrek The Musical Nominated
2011 Anything Goes Won
2014 Violet Nominated

Drama Desk Awards[edit]

Year Award Performance Result
2002 Outstanding Actress in a Musical Thoroughly Modern Millie Won
2005 Little Women Nominated
2006 The Drowsy Chaperone Nominated
2009 Shrek The Musical Nominated
2011 Anything Goes Won
2014 Violet Nominated
2017 Sweet Charity Nominated

Drama League Awards[edit]

Year Award Performance Result
2002 Distinguished Performance Thoroughly Modern Millie Nominated
2005 Little Women Nominated
2006 The Drowsy Chaperone Nominated
2008 Young Frankenstein Nominated
2009 Shrek The Musical Nominated
2011 Anything Goes Nominated
2014 Violet Nominated
2017 Sweet Charity Nominated

Outer Critics Circle Awards[edit]

Year Award Performance Result
2002 Outstanding Actress in a Musical[10] Thoroughly Modern Millie Won
2005 Little Women Nominated
2006 The Drowsy Chaperone Nominated
2009 Shrek The Musical Won
2011 Anything Goes Won
2014 Violet Nominated

Other awards[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2002 Astaire Award Best Female Dancer[94] Thoroughly Modern Millie Won Audience Awards Favorite Actress in a Musical Won
Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Female) Won
2005 Audience Awards Favorite Actress in a Musical Little Women Won
Favorite Diva Performance Won
2006 Audience Awards Favorite Actress in a Musical The Drowsy Chaperone Nominated
Favorite Diva Performance Nominated
Favorite Ensemble Performance Nominated
2008 Audience Awards Favorite Onstage Pair
(shared with Roger Bart)
Young Frankenstein Won
Favorite Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated
2009 Audience Awards Favorite Onstage Pair
(shared with Brian d'Arcy James)
Shrek The Musical Nominated
Favorite Actress in a Musical Nominated
Favorite Diva Performance Won
2011 Audience Awards Favorite Actress in a Musical Anything Goes Won
Favorite Diva Performance Nominated
Favorite Onstage Pair
(shared with Joel Grey)
Astaire Award Best Dancer on Broadway[10] Won
2014 Audience Awards Favorite Actress in a Musical Violet Nominated
2017 Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical Sweet Charity Nominated

Music awards[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Award Performance Result
2012 Best Musical Theater Album Anything Goes Nominated

Television awards[edit]

Critics' Choice Television Awards[edit]

Year Award Performance Result
2013 Best Actress in a Comedy Series Bunheads Nominated

Other awards[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2012 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actress: Breakout Bunheads Nominated
2013 Gracie Awards Outstanding Female Actor in a Breakthrough Role[95][96] Won
2016 Women's Image Network Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Younger Nominated
2017 Nominated


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