Sutton Foster, Colin Donnell and Joshua Henry "Let It Sing" in Roundabout's Violet

By Harry Haun
06 Apr 2014

Joshua Henry

Donnell and Foster were best buds their previous time together on stage, in 2011's Anything Goes. Now they've amorously upped the ante. "It's exciting to work with Sutton again. It felt, even on the first day of rehearsal, great to get back on the same page with her — so easy, so wonderful — and to work on a completely different kind of relationship."

He has a new song in the works that he hopes will take the negative edge off his role. "Monty has a song where he keeps saying, 'You're Different,' so whatever it is it'll be different from 'You're Different.' The great thing about having Jeanine and Brian so involved in the process again is that they're really re-attacking the material and re-investigating all they did in 1997, looking at it 17 years later with fresher eyes."

Henry will stick with the songs he was dealt, among them "Let It Sing," a gospel showstopper. "I think that's Flick's creed," he said. "His mother — like mine — taught him [that] your voice matters. Your path in life doesn't have to be like everyone else's. You're a unique individual, and you don't have to prove things to others."

The City Center resurrection, which was newly reconfigured as a one-act by director Leigh Silverman, took eight days to mount, and the rethinking continues. "We're digging deeper," admitted Henry. "Jeanine doesn't want a song just for the sake of a song. She's questioning everything, making sure every song is earned, and, if it's not, she's the first to say, 'Let's get it out of there.' It's crazy to hear a composer say that out loud."

In a sense, Tesori made her own miracle. As artistic director of the 2013 Encores! Off-Center series at City Center, she tapped Violet for a one-night-only revival. "She was reluctant to do that," said Foster. "Violet was her first heartbreak. When it opened at Playwrights Horizons, there was this momentum and hope it'd go to Broadway, but it didn't transfer. I think she was nervous to poke at it again.

"But this turns out to be a great time to bring it back, especially in an age when people have such an obsession for physical beauty, when people can go and change their looks whenever they want. For thousands of dollars, they can be who they want to be. Violet has a song where she describes Judy Garland's chin and Grace Kelly's nose and Rita Hayworth's skin. In this day and age, you can buy all that!"