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Sutton Foster Finds Balance in Show Biz

The star of Younger and Broadway’s revival of The Music Man talks new roles, life as a working mom, and her love of cooking

Off-screen, the multi-talented Sutton Foster is as endearing as the persona she takes on in TV Land’s Younger. The soft-spoken actress who, aside from winning two Tony Awards, has achieved a starring role in seven seasons of a hit television series, a guest appearance on A Million Little Things, and an upcoming lead role opposite Hugh Jackman (swoon) in the 2020 revival of The Music Man, is totally grounded when it comes to her career. Along with her acting, singing and dancing, she’s also navigating motherhood with grace. She’s not a regular mom; she’s a cool mom.

Most Younger fans out there, including myself, have been wondering what will come next for Foster’s beloved character Liza Miller in the show’s upcoming seventh season. Foster pauses for a few seconds before deciding, “With season six, we left it with such a big cliffhanger with Charles proposing so I have no idea how Liza will answer. I don’t think Liza is necessarily ready to get married again right now, but I also don’t think she wants to end her relationship with Charles.”

Foster admits that she does try to predict the future of Liza’s current love triangle with Charles, played by Peter Hermann, and Josh, played by Nico Tortorella, but what she really wants is for her character to continue to thrive in her career. “I want her to make decisions, as far as romance, based on what is right for her and not someone else,” she explains. “I want her to choose herself. I don’t think the show is about her riding off into the sunset with a guy.” Amen to that.

“I think that Liza has actually grown up a lot over the seasons, which is ironic since she’s pretending to be younger, but what I’m really excited about is that her secret’s out. She doesn’t have to pretend to be younger anymore,” Sutton says. “She can be her most authentic self. We’ll see how all that plays out.”

On-screen, the chemistry with co-star Hilary Duff and the other cast members is undeniable. Foster tells me, “Hilary and I have gotten really close, especially over the last couple seasons. We spend a lot of time on set. We’re there 14 hours a day and it really makes a difference when you like the people that you work with. Everyone has families, and there are so many kids and dogs, and it’s just a really positive and happy work environment and I think that shows.”

The fresh-faced, cheery actress is selective about her television work, sharing that the projects she chooses have to make sense for her life and family. Foster’s latest gig on season two of A Million Little Things was a perfect fit for this working mom. “It was awesome. I went out and shot for two days. I played sort of a major character, but I only worked for a couple days.”

Soon, the Broadway veteran will play the smart and tightly-wound Marian Paroo in The Music Man. Rehearsals don’t begin until July, but she’s already begun ruminating about her character and is thrilled to share the spotlight with Hugh Jackman, who plays Harold Hill. “I met with him in January when I was first approached about the show and then I saw him in his one-man show in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl, which was amazing. We’ve kind of just texted here and there. But next year, we’re going to be best friends,” she says with a chuckle. “Hopefully! Hopefully we’ll hit it off.” The duo plans to reunite for table work in February.

As a working mom, Foster is excited to share the magic of theater, among other things, with her daughter Emily. “You know, it’s challenging. It’s a constant balance,” she reveals. “The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was get my daughter out the door [for school] by 8:30 in the morning without a major meltdown of some sort. I mean, we’re in two-and-a-half land, so the wrong pair of shoes could just really ruin a day.”

She recalls a special moment. “I had to do some concerts in Virginia, and I said, ‘Mommy has to go, Mommy has to go to work,’ and she looked up at me and said, ‘You don’t have to go to work, you have to go sing.’ And I was like, ‘You’re right.’ I love that she knows her mommy works, and I love that she knows her mommy does something that isn’t just work and that I love to do it, because that’s what I want for her, you know? I want her to be able to find something she’s passionate about that she loves and just happens to get paid for it. I’m proud to be a working mom because I love to be able to show that to her, but with that comes sacrifices.”

Sutton lets me in on a few words she lives by. “I always say life is like a stovetop, you always have different things on the burners, and then you put things on the side and you move things around. But my daughter is always on the front burner. Always. And then I move everything else around.”

This brings us to another passion of hers: cooking. “I love to cook for my daughter,” she says, adding that her little one has already developed a passion for the culinary arts, especially baking. As a brand ambassador for Lactaid, she spends a lot of time using the real milk (sans the lactose) ingredient to bake confections, especially gingerbread cookies.

Apart from cooking, performing, and being a wife and a mom (and dog mom), Foster still finds a little time for self-care. You’ll notice her Instagram feed is speckled with sentimental crocheted Christmas ornaments, a yearly tradition inspired by her late mom, and hats for her mini me. “I’m an avid crocheter—it’s something I like to do. Especially when I’m on set and I have a lot of downtime and I feel like I can’t be with my family, so I make a lot of stuff for Emily. It’s sort of a way I can try to stay connected to her when I’m not with her.”