Broadway star Sutton Foster is a busy woman nowadays. The two-time Tony Award winner is starring as a former showgirl-turned-ballet instructor on the ABC Family series Bunhead s (it resumes at 9 p.m. Mondays on Jan. 7), and she manages to squeeze in occasional concert appearances. One of those will happen on Saturday when she performs at the 20th anniversary gala to benefit Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
A true triple threat — she’s a leading lady who acts, sings and dances brilliantly — Foster was born in Georgia, raised in Michigan and made her TV debut on Star Search at 15. Now 37, she has a long list of Broadway credits, including the title role in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jo in Little Women, Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone, Inga in Young Frankenstein, Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical and Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. Her brother Hunter Foster is also a successful Broadway actor.
Formerly married to Smash star Christian Borle and once linked to Boardwalk Empire’s Bobby Cannavale, Foster is savoring a new phase in her life after moving from New York to Los Angeles.
Why have you made time to fly cross-country and sing at the Sylvester gala?
At first, I thought, ‘Oh! Miami in December— that’s wonderful!’ But really, I’d do anything to support cancer research. One of my cousins is fighting cancer, and I have friends who have gone through it. It’s important.
What will you be singing?
[Musical director] Michael Rafter and I are working on a new album, so some things will be brand-new stuff, working the kinks out and listening to see how people respond. Some will be songs from my other albums [ Wish and An Evening with Sutton Foster: Live at the Café Carlyle], and some will be from Broadway shows.
After your great success on Broadway, what made you want to try a TV series?
I’d been doing theater for 20 years — I started at 17. Broadway and touring were all I’ve ever known. Some of my friends say, ‘You’re gone, you’re leaving Broadway forever.’ But this is just for now. Theater is my true passion.
What differences do you find in acting for the stage vs. acting on TV or in movies?
In TV, every day is something new. You do a scene, then move forward. In theater, there’s a familiarity every night, and you have a chance to keep improving it. TV is like a moving train.
Do you have a favorite among all your Broadway roles?
It always seems to be the one you’re doing at the moment. But I’d say Reno Sweeney. She’s so different from me — so sassy and smart and sharp and sexy.
Tickets to the Sylvester gala are $250 for cocktails, show and after-party, $1,000 for everything plus dinner. The event begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami and Hotel Beaux Arts, 255 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami. For information, visit Sylvester.org/community/signature-events/Sylvester-gala or call 305-243-9088.