Flight of the Conchords

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Debut Album from Sutton Foster.

Interview with Sutton Foster

On a very happy day in Winter, I got to place a call through to New York and have a wee chat with Sutton Foster...

Collage of Sutton Foster scenes

A well-established Broadway actress, she is well known to Flight of the Conchords fans as having played 'Coco' in Series One of the HBO TV Series.

Having just released her debut album 'Wish', we enjoyed a fun chat talking about a host of things ranging from working with the Conchords, life on Broadway, her music, to Gene Wilder and living in New York.

She was lovely to talk to, very bright and personable wee soul and someone, I suspect, we'll be seeing on our screens again sooner than later...


Exclusive Interview with Sutton Foster
About Her Time on the Flight of the Conchords TV Series

(slightly enamoured interviewer)
Hi Sutton. Thanks for taking the time to have a chat with me.
..

(Sutton Foster)
Hi there, that’s no problem…

It’s been a while now since Season One was filmed, how did you first become involved with the Conchords & HBO, especially as it was quite a bit different from your Broadway career? Had you heard of the Conchords before?

Actually, I had a couple of friends of mine who were big fans of the HBO special that they had done the year before the TV series. When I got the audition my friend Brian freaked out saying “Are you kidding me? Oh my God, they’re amazing…”.

So, from there, I watched the HBO concert and a bunch of their other concerts on YouTube and then, I was like “Oh my God - they’re so funny”.

So, I went and auditioned and got the part and spent 3 weeks filming with them and they were just awesome - just great, great guys! I was actually doing a show at the time, a Broadway show called The Drowsy Chaperone and they both came along and saw the show.

Oh, did they? How cool!

Yeah, it was great. I don’t think either of them had seen a Broadway show before and I was like “you guys are in New York and you have to experience a Broadway show - you HAVE to come and see it!”, so they did and they seemed to really enjoy it.

Sutton Foster

You were in 3 episodes all together with a continuing story arc as Bret’s girlfriend Coco. How did you find it, was it pretty low key filming with them, relative to your theatre background?

You know, I do have more of a theatre background and this was really my first real foray into television work. But I have to say, they were great to work with, so low key and cool.

I kind of felt like I fitted in, in a weird kind of way. Mainly because it was so musical and I felt like ‘Oh, this is exactly what I do…  just a little different’, so I felt quite comfortable.

You were certainly involved in some great scenes particularly with the episode ‘Yoko’ with the argument in the Murray’s office, the bus scene and the extended musical number ‘Sellotape’ - which was almost Broadway'esque, I felt.

Yeah (laughs), they were so funny.

Especially that episode, Yoko. It’s amazing really, I’ve done like 9 Broadway shows and I probably get more recognized from playing Coco on Flight of the Conchords, than anything else. People are often coming up to me and saying “excuse me… ahm… are you Coco?” and I laugh “…yeah!”.

That episode was so much fun to film. I was there every day throughout the week doing different things. For the bus scene we were in Brooklyn & Queens and we kept going around the block over, over and over again. The bus had been hired for the day and the extras on it, playing the passengers, were all the staff & crew involved in making the show. Production assistants, the sound crew and everyone really, which just made it so much fun to do.

Sutton Foster releases debut album 'Wish'

Interestingly, all the episodes that you were in seem to rate the highest amongst general online votes and polls, with ‘Yoko’ generally being people’s favourite. Of course, that got nominated for a Grammy for Best Writing for a Comedy Series.

Yeah, I saw that. Actually, it was my Dad who saw it first and he sent me the link saying “Did you know…?”. And I was like “Oh my God” I just thought that was so cool.

Well, talking about the episode Yoko, there’s something I’m dying to ask you about and that is the filming of the song If You’re Into It?

Yeah... (laughs knowingly)…

I don’t know if you’re aware but it is the Conchords second highest viewed song on YouTube, after Business Time (Business Time is on 13 ½ million views, with If You’re Into It on about 8 1/3 million). Had you heard the song before they sung it to you in filming?

I think I had watched it on YouTube before we did it? I had gotten the script in advance and I was trying to find out what the song was like, so I could just be prepared for whatever they were going to do. But then when we were filming it, they didn’t know how to bring Jemaine into it. So, then they began bringing in all of those instruments & stuff and every time I turned around he was doing something else different, with like the piano or the apple etc.


If you haven't seen it before, enjoy
If You're Into It!

Oh wow, really? I thought that was one of the best moments from the first series and it turns out they filmed moderately off the cuff!

Yeah, it was ridiculous, I couldn’t get away from it (laughs). Every time I turned around they were doing something else crazy.

Yeah, I’ve wondered many times how you managed to keep a straight face during the filming of it? It’s such a mad song, seeing it sung to a real person reinforces the absurdity of the situation.

Those guys are so great… their committed delivery and you just try to keep up with them. You really don’t know what they are going to do next. So, I just thought I’ll go with it and try and keep up.

Was there ever any suggestion of you doing some singing on the series?

Ah, they were thinking about having me sing more in Sellotape, but then it just didn’t work as their filming schedule was going so crazy. Actually, I was like ‘Coco needs to come back as a singing person’.

Yeah (laughing), I was looking for an angle for bringing Coco back in a singing role.

Cool, I like it – I’d love to see Coco come feature back in the series. Perhaps you could turn up with your new CD in hand and a bit more of life’s reality, could be intertwined into their New York tale.

Ha, yeah - that’d be awesome! They could be like “Coco, you sing?” and I could be like “Oh yeah, I’ve got an album out now!”.

Sutton Foster's Debut Album 'Wish'

You mentioned before about people’s reaction to the Conchords, do you still get it now, especially as you live in New York, don’t you?

Yes, I do. Conchords has such a cult following and it just keeps growing and growing. For me it’s quite nice because I was in the first few episodes, so I still get recognized every now and then.

A lot of people who see the show (Broadway) and appear at the stage door, they’ll be like “Oh, we really loved you in Conchords” or something like that. It’s funny how it is just building momentum, with more people seeing it and talking about it. It’s a really special show!

Have you had a chance to travel much to Europe or New Zealand or Australia? From what I’ve read, most of your adult life has been tied up with theatre.

Yeah, that’s true, I’ve been pretty busy in New York. I’ve only really had the chance to travel to France and Italy. But, I’ve always wanted to travel to Australia… and New Zealand, as well!

Oh yes, ‘and New Zealand’… (laughs idiot interviewer)

But, I haven’t really had the opportunity to do so. It takes like forever to fly there doesn’t it?

Sure does, it’s a long haul. But, you’d be ever so welcome in New Zealand if you did ever make it! You’d be very popular there from your Conchords association. You’d be famous, but it’s quite a nice type of fame in NZ as Kiwis are, generally, quite shy, retiring, creatures – so they’d be quite mellow & friendly, in their adulation.

Oh, that’s so cool!

On that subject, how do you handle fame yourself? As a Kiwi, reading between the lines in interviews and things, I think Bret & Jemaine find it a bit wearying at times – the ever present ‘in your face’ American type of fame.

Well, it’s different in theatre as I’m pretty well able to live an anonymous life. I mean I’m not as publicised as say Bret & Jemaine are. So, I live a fairly low-key kind of life and only occasionally get recognised in New York, outside of my normal sphere of work. That’s pretty cool for me as it’s quite manageable – I don’t think I would like it to be any more.

Your debut album comes out on the 17th of February and it’s made up of jazz, pop, cabaret and Broadway, so the wonderful world of Wikipedia tells me.

Sutton Foster releases debut album 'Wish'Yes (laughs politely at weak interviewer joke) it’s an eclectic mix of music & sound that I quite enjoy. There really is quite a jazz-folk feel to it and that is primarily the feel of the album.

There is some standard musical theatre on it too, but we tried to put a little bit of a spin on everything and I couldn’t be more proud of it. It’s my first foray into recording and I do feel it’s a true expression of who I am and what I sing.

And how long have you been working on it for?

Actually, on and off for about 4 years with a collaborator and a music director. It was such personal thing, but you don’t know if something will ever be 100% right. Last year it really felt like the right time to record it.

We had been collecting music over the years and picked the ones we liked the best and were like “Ok, let’s do it!”.

I believe you did the artwork for the album as well?

Artwork from Sutton Foster's album WishYeah, I did actually. I love to draw and decided to take in some of the lyrics from the songs and include them in some simple drawings throughout. I wanted it to be as much of a personal thing from me, as possible.

I saw some footage on YouTube where you were playing some music from the album live down at Joe’s pub. Is that the first time you’ve performed a live gig like that?

I’ve actually done a couple of them before and I actually really do love solo-concert stuff like that. It’s quite freeing to stand up there as yourself and not to be behind a character or make-up etc, as in theatre.

Although it’s quite stressful too, as there is nothing to hide behind and (laughing) people are going to see who I am - but I do enjoy it.

I guess you are still pretty busy with your Broadway work as well?

Yes, I’m in Shrek playing Princess Fiona at the moment - which is a lot of fun.

I saw an interview where you were discussing the putting on of the make-up for that?

Yeah, it takes them a frantic minute to get all of the make-up on for the turnaround. So, every night I end up covered in green makeup, but, it is really a special show. In fact the last year with this Broadway show, the Conchords TV show and now my album, it has really been a big, big year for me and full of some things that I’m really proud of.

Of course, before Shrek you were performing in the stage version of Young Frankenstein? That was one of my favourite films when I was younger and I saw an interview where you discussed the first time you saw the film and your reaction to it!

Ha, yes, the first time I saw the film I couldn’t believe what I was watching. As soon as they got to the ‘Putting on the Ritz’ scene (Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein & ‘’the Monster’ performing the song on Broadway) I was like “Are you serious, is that happening?” it was fantastic. Every time you see it you pick up new things. That ensemble of actors were just so brilliant, so subtle and so funny on it.

And, of course, working on it later with Mel Brooks was just such an pleasure. You’re standing there thinking ‘Wow, I can’t believe Mel Brooks is right there!’, ‘he’s giving me notes and talking to me’. It was like, you know, a story-book experience.

I have to ask, have you also met Gene Wilder as well? He had worked on Will & Grace in more recent times with Megan Mullally (who played Karen Walker on the show) who had co-starred with you on Young Frankenstein. He was brilliant in that and really stole some scenes in that show, showing he's still got it.

Oh yeah, I had forgotten he was on there with Megan. Yeah, he was so funny wasn’t he, just brilliant.

Yes, I did get to meet him as well as Teri Garr and others. He was there on opening night and he was just very lovely and gracious. It was just so special and an honour to have him there and a lot of the others from the film to. It was just really cool - kind of like passing the torch to a new generation of people.

And what of your plans for the future? Any plans to do any more TV or movie work?

Well, definitely my heart is in the theatre, but if something special came along, I’d consider it. The reason I did Flight of the Conchords was because I thought it was really special in itself and really different. Certainly, I’d love to do some more television work if it was of that type of calibre.

So, that is where I’m at. I’m primarily pursuing stage work but if something special came up, I’d certainly look at it.

Well, I and the fans would love to see you feature back in the Conchords, singing or otherwise. Thank you ever so much for your time Sutton - it’s been a real pleasure to talk to you!

Thank you, you’re welcome – have a great day *:)

 

* smiley, added by idiot interviewer!

Sutton Foster's Debut Album 'Wish'
Sutton Foster's Debut Album Wish Available Now

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