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CLEVELAND
Regional Reviews by David Ritchey

An Evening With Sutton Foster
Hanna Theater

Also see David's review of Ain't Misbehavin'

Sutton Foster came to Cleveland, Ohio, for a concert in the Hanna Theater, PlayhouseSquare, February 6, 2010; the theater seemed sold out for the one-performance show.

Foster and Michael Rafter (music director and accompanist) performed a concert of music from Broadway shows. She started with songs from Annie, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Little Women, shows in which she has performed on Broadway. Then she talked to the audience. She showed her Tony Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie, and left it on a stool by the piano for all to see. Of course, having a Tony Award that visible fueled the excitement of the many musical theater students in the audience.

She wove songs and stories in a most entertaining way. She told the story of the song that was taken from the 1920s and with some new lyrics placed early in act two of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Only a day before the show was to begin its west coast tryout run, the rights for the song were withdrawn—so a new song was written that could use the same orchestration. Foster sang both songs, which, of course, were similar, then she went for the laugh—the new song was dropped from the show.

She tells a story better than most actors. That storytelling ability, which is different than acting, is a southern trait and she did live in Georgia as a girl.

As she sang "Truth" from The Drowsy Chaperone, she changed her costume to get at the truth about herself. The joke worked as she removed her beige dress to reveal a dark blue dress, and then she tossed padding from her bra on the stage.

She ended the concert with an American classic, "Once Upon a Time."

Foster has a clean, clear voice that seems comfortable with high notes and medium low notes. She has the breath control that supports the crisp and the soft delivery. What she lacked in this performance was the opportunity for a diva to belt a song. She seems more comfortable with the quiet, romantic song than with big and brassy. Many of the songs in the program are from her CD, Wish.

The concert ran about 75 minutes without an intermission. However, from the audience's applause, cheering and standing ovation, Sutton Foster could have performed until midnight and the audience would have stayed with her.

Foster was most generous with her fans. After the concert, she sat in the lobby for more than an hour and signed programs, posed for pictures and autographed her photograph in the Wish CD package.

This performance was the second of five in this series of concerts, which began in St. Louis, Missouri, on February. 4). The next appearances will be in San Francisco, California (February 24), Naples, Florida (February 26), and Charlotte, North Carolina (March 20). For ticket information check Sutton Foster's website. Foster will play Nurse Fay Apple in Anyone Can Whistle in the City Center Encores Series, New York City, April 8-10, 2010.

An Evening with Sutton Foster
The Hanna Theatre
Cleveland PlayhouseSquare
February 6, 2010
Singer: Sutton Foster
Music Director and Accompanist: Michael Rafter

- David Ritchey



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