Broadway and television star Sutton Foster has kept the shipboard musical Anything Goes afloat.
She has taken over from Megan Mullally, who’s had to withdraw from the show bound for the Barbican, just weeks before rehearsals, because of a foot injury.
Mullally was to have starred as Reno Sweeney, the evangelist turned nightclub siren, opposite Robert Lindsay, Felicity Kendal and Gary Wilmot in Cole Porter’s effervescent romantic comedy that will still begin previews from July 23.
‘My body has informed me (mainly while at tap class) that I need to have a few rods replaced before I can get back on stage,’ she said. ‘Hopefully that will be as soon as possible.’ But not soon enough for London.
Luckily, though, director Kathleen Marshall has found a life jacket in the form of Foster, 46, who was a sensation when she played Reno in the Broadway production she staged back in 2011. Both won Tony Awards (as did the show, for best musical revival).
A couple of years ago the pair discussed putting on a new version in the West End. But ocean currents were against them at that time, thanks to Foster’s other stage commitments, as well as the shooting schedule for her TV series Younger (about a 40-year-old divorcee passing herself off as a 26-year-old to land a job).
When Foster got a call from Marshall saying: ‘We’re sort of in a bind . . . would you be interested?’ she didn’t hesitate. ‘I’m like ‘Whaaaaat?!’ ‘ she joked.
The actress recently completed the seventh and final season of Younger, so ‘amazingly’ she had a window in her schedule between June 14, when rehearsals begin, through to October 10, when she has to be back in the States to start work with Hugh Jackman on The Music Man on Broadway.
(Producer Howard Panter will have to find someone else to play Reno for the show’s final week, before it heads off on tour).
Megan Mullally (back left), who won awards for her role in Will & Grace (pictured), said in a statement yesterday that she’s ‘heartbroken to miss the opportunity to work on this amazing classic musical’ due to an injury
She’s clearly over the moon about the unexpected job offer. ‘Honestly, I burst into tears at the thought of being on the stage again. It’s overwhelming. Our entire industry has been non-existent for the last year.’
She’s also ‘intrigued’ to see what it’ll be like, revisiting a role she redefined when she was 36, now that she’s ‘older and a little more tired’.
Foster said she’d doubled her exercise regimen during the pandemic. Which is good, because Marshall’s choreography is daunting.
The musical star agreed. ‘Anything Goes! That number especially. Where you have 30 people, all facing the audience, all tap-dancing at the same time!
‘I will say that it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically,’ Foster said of the show. And that was before she became mother to Emily, aged four, who will accompany her to London.
Dad, screenwriter Ted Griffin, is coming, too; as is the family’s Dorkie pooch Mabel. (The family’s other dog, Brodie, a lively Westiepoo, will go to a farm in Connecticut ‘where he can run around’, she told me.)