On Thursday, August 6, two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anything Goes) will help the New York Pops open its new summer residency in Queens, extending the organization's distinguished history with the orchestra's inaugural concert at Forest Hills Stadium. An encore performance of her concert with the Pops in March, featuring selections from Broadway and some of Sutton's other favorite songs, it will be followed by an evening with Pink Martini and special guest, Meow Meow on Friday, August 7.
A lot has happened for Sutton since we last spoke in March. Having already conquered Broadway, she's now achieved TV stardom with TVLand's "Younger," which aired this spring (she appeared on several shows before but they were lesser vehicles for her compared to the success of "Younger," including HBO's "Flight of the Conchords" and ABC Family's "Bunheads").
If you think about it, in some way with "Younger" and now the concert in Forest Hills, Foster is sort of becoming an ambassador for New York City's diverse boroughs. Follow along, please. In Manhattan she wows fans on Broadway. On "Younger" as 40-plus Liza Miller, posing as a 26-year old, she empowers us less-than-hipsters to explore downtown Brooklyn. Now with this concert alongside the New York Pops (and the other acts that have performed there since the venue reopened last year after being closed for twenty years) she's helping add a new spot to an already growing list that proves Queens offers more culture than just "the nanny named Fran."
So, in honor of Sutton's slow rise to power in all five boroughs (move over Mayor de Blasio), we caught up not only about the concert but what she's learned, a nearly 20-year resident of NYC, as I quizzed her on the outer boroughs and we explored what her favorite spots are in the city.
"Now I'm conquering Queens," she said, laughing about this campaign I'd concocted as different projects take her borough to borough. "I'm super excited," she added. "Carnegie Hall was awesome and the Pops are just so much fun singing with them and with [music director] Steven Reineke. I'm super excited to sing outside in this venue." "I obviously perform with orchestras but not of this magnitude and not of this esteem," she said. "After Carnegie Hall [the Pops] asked me to do the concert in Forest Hills, I felt really honored to be able to represent and help inaugurate this new space with them. I just feel like the 15-year old kid who dreamed of doing all this, so I'm still pinching myself that this is what I do for a living."
Ok, now on to Sutton's other favorite places and things in New York City...
Other favorite spot in Queens (and I told her she couldn't say JFK airport): Target and the Ravel Hotel
Sutton: Oh my God, I don't really know Queens, is that bad? You know like, in Queens... I think there's a Target in Queens that I've been to.
Steve: There's two Targets in Queens, one at Queens Center...
Sutton: Target is my favorite thing in Queens. There's not one in Manhattan, so you have to go to one of the other boroughs to go to Target. Why isn't there a Target in Manhattan? That doesn't make any sense.
Steve: There is one. In Harlem now, yeah.
Sutton: Is there one in Harlem?
Steve: There is. I'm a Broadway and a Target expert.
Sutton: Okay, I need to know that. I think Target is my favorite spot in Queens.
Steve: Okay, I was going to give you help and hint at like Long Island City or Astoria if you're a foodie at all, but Target's I think is a really awesome answer.
Sutton: The only place I've been in Long Island City is when my best friend, Megan [McGinnis], who is singing with me at the concert, she got married in Long Island City. I think it was called Ravel.
Steve: Yeah, Ravel Hotel
Sutton: She got married there on the roof. It was beautiful so I like that place, too.
Sutton's favorite things she's learned in Brooklyn since she started filming "Younger": Real life hipsters, Cherry Jones pizza, and Nitehawk Cinema for the food, drink, movies and bathroom
"Hipsters exist... I didn't realize that was a thing. I've been living under a rock obviously for the last ten years. There was a dude on a unicycle with a full beard and a top hat and a monocle riding by. I was like 'Oh, okay.'
There's this pizza place [Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint]; we shot a scene there in the show, it was like the best pizza I've ever had. They have a 'Cherry Jones pizza'. In honor of Cherry Jones, it had like cherries on it but it had a lot of other stuff on it.. Also, that movie theater [Nitehawk], where there's a really cool bar and you can eat food ...That place is cool, cool, cool. Maggie's loft in the show is right next to that movie theater. We use the bar a lot as where we pee, we pee there a lot. That's like our bathroom... this is horrible."
Sutton's other favorite outdoor concert experience in New York City, other than her own: Patty Griffin in Central Park
"I love Patty Griffin a lot and she performed at the Delacorte [theater in Central Park]... That was hands down my favorite outdoor concert experience that I ever had. She was amazing, I love her."
Favorite date night idea with hubby, screenwriter, Ted Griffin: Chamber Magic at the Waldorf Astoria hotel and dinner at Market Table
"This was a really cool date... we went to see Steve Cohen, he's a magician, it's called Chamber Magic. It's sort of sleight of hand. It's in one of the rooms at the Waldorf Astoria and there's maybe like fifty or sixty tickets sold for each show and he does magic right in front of you. It's really interactive with the guest and it is awesome. It's such a great New York thing to do that not a lot of people know about. One of our favorite places to eat in the city is Market Table which is down on Carmine and Bedford. It's a farm-to-table; the menu's always changing and it's awesome."
Favorite spots to bring first time visitors: Bloomingdale's, The High Line, Levain Bakery, Joe Allen
"Things are flashing in my head, first thing I thought of was Bloomingdale's... the frozen yogurt at Bloomingdale's is the best. I also think you have to walk to the High Line. The High Line is such a cool ass New York thing. We also always go get a cookie at Levain Bakery... When we have friends in town we always take them to Joe Allen's in the theater district. It's a staple and we love it.
Sutton's plan to share her love amongst NYC's two other boroughs, Staten Island and the Bronx: "Sutton Foster stars in Working Girl the Musical" on the Staten Island Ferry and a concert at the Bronx Zoo
Steve: Sutton. I saved the toughest question for last. What's your plan next to show up in the Bronx or Staten Island?
Sutton: Oh Jesus.
Steve: Perhaps a concert at the zoo...
Sutton: I have definitely been to the Bronx Zoo, that counts... I like your idea, something to do with the zoo and then I can sing a song while crossing over on the ferry. I could do a ferry concert.
Steve: I don't see why can't we do another revival of Anything Goes on a boat. There's no reason that can't happen.
Sutton: Yentl. I could do Yentl. (click here if you don't get that reference.)
Steve: Yes, that would be good.
Sutton: Or "Working Girl", Working Girl the Musical. How about that?
Steve: Sutton Foster stars in Working Girl the Musical on the Staten Island Ferry. I'm calling [Broadway producer] Jordan Roth right now.
Sutton: Please do.
Steve Schonberg is the theater expert on NBC "Weekend Today in New York," and is the editor-in-chief of www.centerontheaisle.com.