'What I love about doing concerts," says Tony-award-winning actress and singer Sutton Foster, "is it gives me a chance to step out of character and just be myself. Yes, people have seen me on Broadway and TV, playing all of these interesting characters. Now people get to meet me. They get to discover what it is that appeals to me as an artist, to find out who I really am.
"And hopefully," Foster laughs, "people will still like me."
Foster, who played Michelle on the ABC Family series
Bunheads, is best known for her work on Broadway, where she's made a career of transforming iconic movie characters into equally iconic stage characters. She won her first Tony as the lead in Thoroughly Modern Millie, the stage adaptation of the 1967 Julie Andrews film, and went on to appear as Jo March in the 2004 musical adaptation of Little Women, the yodeling lab-assistant Inga in Young Frankenstein and the rough-and-tumble Princess Fiona in Shrek: The Musical. She also created the role of actress-in-love Janet van de Graaf in The Drowsy Chaperone, and went on to win her second Tony as Reno in the 2011 Broadway revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes.
On Aug. 1, in a one-night-only concert at Jack London State Park, Foster performs highlights from her Broadway shows, along with songs from her two solo albums. The concert is presented by the Transcendence Theatre Company, which has transformed the old winery ruins at Jack London into one of the hottest spots for live performance in the Bay Area. When Foster learned about the open-air, summertime shows, she quickly signed on for a performance under the stars in wine country.
"I'm really looking forward to performing outside," says Foster, who will be accompanied by her longtime musical director Michael Rafter, and also by actress-singer Megan McGinnis, who played Beth to Foster's Jo in Little Women. It's not a long shot to guess they'll be performing Little Women's show-stopping duet "Some Things Are Meant to Be."
And there may be some surprises, as well.
"We'll be doing some songs that are brand-new to us," Foster says. "I think it will be a nice, chill evening. Every song has been chosen with great care. Each one is an expression of who I am and how I feel. I would say this is going to be a very personal show."