TV role a bal­let good move.............................

The small screen is a pleas­ant change for Bun­heads star Sut­ton Fos­ter, writes Guy Davis

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - CONTENTS -

SUT­TON Fos­ter may not be a fa­mil­iar face to many TV view­ers, but that doesn’t mean the multi-tal­ented per­former hasn’t paid her dues. While her big­gest TV role to date was a brief but mem­o­rable stint as Bret’s girl­friend on the cult com­edy Flight of the Con­chords, Fos­ter is an ac­claimed mu­si­cal-the­atre veteran with 15 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence on Broad­way and two Tony Awards to her name.

But now the singer-dancer-ac­tor is mak­ing a shift, tak­ing on the lead role in Bun­heads, the new se­ries from Gil­more Girls cre­ator Amy Sherman-Pal­ladino.

Play­ing Michelle, a former Las Ve­gas show­girl who ends up over­see­ing a small-town dance stu­dio full of as­pir­ing young bal­leri­nas (the ‘‘bun­heads’’, be­cause of their shared hair­style), has re­sulted in some­thing of a cul­ture shock.

‘‘It’s def­i­nitely a huge life change. I had been liv­ing in New York for 15 years, I had never really spent time out here in Los An­ge­les, and so I was sort of just tak­ing a leap,’’ she says. Not un­like her Bun­heads char­ac­ter, one might say. ‘‘It was a to­tal par­al­lel,’’ she says. ‘‘Brand-new town, brand-new job and (think­ing), ‘Is this go­ing to be a good thing? Is this go­ing to work?’ But it’s been really nice.’’ How is star­ring on a TV se­ries dif­fer­ent from star­ring in a stage show?

I’m coming from a world of the­atre where ev­ery day is the same, and there’s a com­fort in that. But on TV, once you’re done with a scene, you never do it again. You’ve got 40 peo­ple star­ing at you with a cam­era and lights, there’s no time to be scared or to be like, ‘‘I don’t know how’’. There are days where I’m like, ‘‘I can’t do it’’. But you work through it and move on to some­thing else. Have you been recog­nised more since Bun­heads pre­miered?

It’s def­i­nitely changed. It’s al­ways been very nice and pos­i­tive. But I was fol­lowed in the gro­cery store by a gag­gle of 10-year-olds, and that cracked me up. I just heard, ‘‘You go af­ter her’’. ‘‘No, you go af­ter her.’’ I’m stand­ing there look­ing at ce­real and there are four lit­tle girls. They come up be­hind me and they’re like, ‘‘Are you on Bun­heads?’’ And I’m like, ‘‘I am’’. They said, ‘‘Oh my god. I told you. We love that show.’’ It was so sweet.

How do you view your Bun­heads char­ac­ter, Michelle? In a way, Michelle is the vil­lain. That’s not the right word, but she is wreak­ing havoc. I love her be­cause she’s flawed but try­ing, and it’s fun to play such a messy char­ac­ter. It’s neat to be in a show that’s about dance and teach­ing and re­la­tion­ships, so it was just a no-brainer. How is your re­la­tion­ship with the girls play­ing your stu­dents?

At first they thought I was cool, and now I don’t know. They’re won­der­ful girls. We work really hard but we have a great time. When we shot the pi­lot they were like, ‘‘I saw you in (Broad­way show) The Drowsy Chap­er­one’’ or ‘‘I saw you in Any­thing Goes’’. Each of them had a story, which was very cool. I’ve al­ways tried to main­tain a really pro­fes­sional man­ner on set, while also hav­ing fun as well. It was just try­ing to keep a bal­ance with them.

I don’t nec­es­sar­ily know if I want to be their men­tor, or if they need me to be a men­tor, but I do want to be a good ex­am­ple and say, ‘‘Hey, look, you can work hard, you can be a good per­son, you can treat peo­ple re­spect­fully and you can have success’’. And that’s im­por­tant to me, but they’re al­ready great. There’s not a bad ap­ple in the bunch. They’re really great kids, and we have a great time to­gether.

Bun­heads, Mon­days, 7.30pm, pay TV’s Fox8.

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