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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
SUTTON FOSTER
at Cafe Carlyle

THE GIRL'S GOT RANGE
By SANDY MACDONALD

  Sutton Foster/ Ph: Lars Klove

Chipper, peppy, cute as a button – such descriptors inevitably come to mind when summoning the image of Sutton Foster, Broadway star.  However, her latest turn as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes – an across-the-board award-winner – suggested greater depth, more gravitas. Those qualities percolate to the surface in her wide-ranging cabaret show at the Cafe Carlyle, which spans some 20 diverse songs.

True, some of her selections remain mired in the treacly sweet. Her cheery “Georgia on My Mind” – a tribute to her home state – pales beside Ray Charles’ nostalgic signature version. And despite Foster’s personal wattage – in full joy mode, she can outshine the sun – John Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders” is just too simple-minded a ditty to do justice to her gifts.

Foster is at her goofy, touching loveliest singing not exactly torch songs, but modern-day good-time-gal laments, notably Gary Richard Tigerman’s “(I Want to Be) Seduced,” a Leon Redbone fave that’s all the more effective transposed to a female point of view and Christine Lavin's hilarious “Air Conditioner” (for a good time, dial down the Fahrenheit). A mild “done-me-wrong” motif emerges with Francesca Blumenthal’s witty “Lies of Handsome Men” and Jeff Blumenkrantz's “My Heart Was Set on You,” which recounts a heart-rending progression from blinding love to rational reassessment.

Foster always stops well shy of bitterness, even when segueing, ingeniously, from Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle” to “Being Alive.” The former may be on the light side, a little haunted but essentially adventurous and inviting. What Foster gives in the latter is pure, raw emotion, a harrowing cri de coeur torn straight from the torment of loneliness.

After 10 star turns on Broadway (she went on the road with “The Will Rogers Follies” at age 17), two solo albums (this show is a warm-up for her third) and three engagements in New York’s most elegant room (Foster, characteristically, opted for girl-next-door rather than glam), the perennial ingénue is edging into adult territory. We’re in for a hell of a ride.

 


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