‘Bunheads’ Star Sutton Foster: Michelle Will Struggle on Her Journey Back to Paradise

by | January 2, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Bunheads, Interviews

"Bunheads" star Sutton Foster (Randy Holmes/ABC Family)

Bunheads” returns to ABC Family on January 7. For the uninitiated, it’s a show about a Vegas showgirl named Michelle (Sutton Foster) who impulsively marries a man she barely knows and moves to his small beach town, only to have him die 24 hours later. She ends up sharing the house she inherited with his dance teacher mother. The show features showrunner Amy Sherman Palladino’s (“Gilmore Girls“) trademark quirky characters, rapid fire dialogue and pop culture references. When we last left the symbolically named Paradise, California, Michelle accidentally pepper sprayed all  of the ballet students during their spring recital, turning most of the town against her.

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The second half of the season picks up with Michelle in a much less picturesque locale. Says Foster, “She fled Paradise and is in Henderson Nevada working as a magician’s assistant and is crashing on her friend’s couch.” For a preview of the worst magic act ever, watch the clip below. “She’s totally run away from everything in Paradise. I guess she’s not trying to figure everything out. She’s just avoiding it and just trying to get away from it all because she’s just a giant screw up no matter what she does. ”

Of course, Michelle eventually makes her way back to Paradise, after someone unexpected reaches out to her. “Getting her back to Paradise is a bit of a struggle,” Foster tells XfinityTV.com. “Michelle screwed up, massively, and it seems like wherever she goes, she does that. I think Michelle has nothing but good intentions. She’s just a screw up. But I think through a series of events and various characters who see that in her and see that she has things to offer that she has greatness, that’s what will ultimately prevail and get her back.” Without giving away too much, it’s a road involving hummus and Autotune the News.

Once she has returned, the show will delve more deeply into Michelle’s character. “This last half of the season is emotionally [centered] and gets more into Michelle’s past,” Foster Says. “The relationship between Michelle and all the characters the girls and Fanny (Kelly Bishop) and everybody, they grow and deepen and through introducing new characters into the pot you learn more about why Michelle is the way she is. ” Michelle’s equally screwed up older brother Scotty, played by Foster’s real-life brother Hunter Foster, will appear in multiple episodes. The sibling duo raised each other because their family was less than functional.

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Scotty won’t be the only newcomer in Paradise. Truly’s (Stacey Oristano) sister Milly, played by “Gilmore Girls” alumna Liza Weil will visit. Two more students will join Fanny’s dance school,  Jeanine Mason, who won season five of “So You Think You Can Dance”  and Niko Pepaj will play worldly, sophisticated siblings who end up in the small town.

Michelle flirted with numerous men in the first half of the season, but did not settle on a love interest. Foster is not sure if that will chang this spring, or if Michelle is even ready for a romance. “I don’t know who Michelle’s love interest will be. I’m always like going up to Amy saying, “Who are the guys on the horizon?” I think for Michelle, before she can really find love, quote unquote love, she needs to find herself first. I think what brought her to Paradise was she was like, “I’m going to marry this guy and maybe that will be the answer.” But I don’t think the answer for her is in a guy. I think the answer for her is maybe these students and maybe finding roots and family and stability and then maybe she can find what love is. But as far as romance goes, definitely Godot, he’s back, that’s the bartender, as far as the Private Road guy, I’m not sure. As far as other romance, I have no idea.”

Thus far, the Broadway star has spent most of her time watching from the wings while the teen actresses performed. The second half of the season will give Foster more of an opportunity to show off her dancing skills. “You see me dance a little bit the first episode and I know that there’s more dancing to come. The main focus of the show is really on the girls as far as the dancing goes but the show is opening up into a whole new direction which is really exciting. I think that will afford more opportunities for Michelle to break loose.”

Bunheads” returns on Monday, Jan. 7 at 9/8c on ABC Family.