Broadway Spotlight: Interview With Kristin Chenoweth

Stage Superstar Sings Broadway’s Best

b_kristin_photo_by_jill_solomon_dp2b4182cKristin Chenoweth has become one of the most recognizable Broadway stars over the past two decades. The Emmy- and Tony-winning coloratura soprano has a remarkable four-octave range and will share her talents during a 12-show limited engagement November 2-13 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in her one-woman musical show My Love Letter To Broadway.

With musical direction from Mary-Mitchell Campbell and costume design by Christian Siriano, the bulk of Chenoweth’s sing-off will include recent album The Art of Elegance (produced by veteran producer Steve Tyrell), which includes various show tunes and classics from the American songbook. With Kristen’s numerous moments in the spotlight, from Wicked and You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, to Promises, Promises and On The Twentieth Century, not to mention various films and appearances on Glee, Pushing Daisies, and hosting last year’s Tony Awards, any musical material is game whether she has worked on it in the past or not.

Following Chenoweth’s musical soiree, she will return to television in NBC’s Hairspray Live!, where she will star alongside Martin Short, Derek Hough, Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Andrea Martin and more. Kristin spoke with New York City Monthly about her love for Broadway, discussed some of her favorite NYC spots, and hinted at special guests helping her put a stamp on her big “Love Letter” shows…

Your show is called My Love Letter to Broadway. Who in your life would receive a love letter from you in terms of how they helped recognize and develop your talent over the years, and who in New York do you credit for having gotten you to where you are today?

For sure my first voice teacher at Oklahoma City University, Ms. Florence Birdwell, for helping me understand the voice, for helping me to deconstruct a song and put it back together, and then forget it all and just do it. Second letter would go to my current voice teacher in New York, Joan Lader – for helping me to continue
my growth as an artist, for calling me out on my habits, for being my ear when I start listening to myself too much.

Coming from Oklahoma and having spent so much time working and living in New York, what are some of the exciting haunts and spots around town that the everyday tourist may miss out on?

One of my favorite restaurants that I’m not sure that tourists know about is Café Luxembourg. Unbeknownst, it’s totally New York. It’s classy and has great food. The Public Theater downtown: they don’t necessarily target a tourist audience, and yet they offer some of the most innovative theatrical experiences.

Your sixth album The Art of Elegance was released in September, your first collection of all American classics. From Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” to Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me” to Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s “A House Is Not A Home” – these are such major, timeless songs – was there pressure to prepare and record these?

The only pressure there was put to me was by myself. I haven’t regularly sung a lot of these songs, so I found myself in the studio singing them over and over again until they felt more comfortable. It became more sensory memory, then you start to feel more comfortable, that’s when you start making the song your own. The only bummer is I had to cut so many. I wish there was a Part 2.

Another upcoming project includes your role as Velma Von Tussle in NBC’s Hairspray Live! Can fans of the Broadway “Love Letter” shows expect any surprises perhaps from Hairspray, special guests, or a mixture of the American songbook along with some of your most iconic songs from the theater?

No, I’m going to wait and let Hairspray air on December 7, then I might feel like adding some music from the show into my concert. But it would feel like putting the cart before the horse if I did it before we aired. Yes, there will be special guests – I can’t tell you who or how. This is entitled “My Love Letter to Broadway” – so let’s just say it will be well-represented.

You have achieved so much on stage and screen, a Tony award for You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, an Emmy for Pushing Daisies, you originated the iconic role of Glinda in Wicked, you starred on Broadway most recently in Promises, Promises and On The Twentieth Century, and you have lots coming up. What will be particularly special about the opportunity for fans to see and hear just you during your limited engagement My Love Letter to Broadway?

These evenings will be totally dedicated to Broadway material. I love all of the kinds of work that I do, but there’s no place like being on a Broadway stage. Whether you’re in music, a play, or concert, I hope to make my friends in the Broadway community proud of me.