Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reel Thoughts Interview: Chenoweth Chat!

Entertainer Kristin Chenoweth’s unmistakable voice and positive spirit will be on stage when the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts celebrates the grand reopening of the Virginia G. Piper Theater on October 24. The Tony and Emmy-winning singer/actress will headline a benefit that will unveil the new theater and help fund the arts center and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Chenoweth is known for her roles in Broadway’s Wicked, TV’s The West Wing and Pushing Daisies and the movie Running with Scissors (where she played Annette Bening’s lover). Lately it seems she’s everywhere:
  • She recently guest starred on the Fox-TV show Glee.
  • She won her Emmy in September for her role in the ABC-TV show Pushing Daisies.
  • In August, she served as guest judge at the American Idol tryouts in Orlando.
  • Last spring she released a memoir titled A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love and Faith in Stages,which describes her journey from small-town Oklahoma girl to Broadway star.

Chenoweth is supportive of her GLBT fans, and the open-minded Christian performer regretted it when she unwittingly went on The 700 Club to promote her 2005 album As I Am,unaware of what a hurtful figure the show’s host Pat Robertson is to the community. Later, Chenoweth was uninvited to a Women in Faith conference due to her support of the GLBT community. She takes that sort of attitude in stride with her trademark upbeat outlook.

NC: I’ve been a fan since you were Sally in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. What kind of treats do you have in store for your Scottsdale concert?
KC: Well, I've been working on some new material and am excited to share that along with some of my favorites. It's an honor to reopen the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

NC: I am so bummed that Pushing Daisies was canceled. I don’t think any other actress could make a character named Olive Snook so lovable. It was great that you were able to sing on the show. How was that? Any fond memories you can reveal?
KC: I know! It was such a gem of a show and I loved playing Olive. As for singing, I love when it makes sense for a character to sing. I am a singer and an actress and I always say that we sing because we can't speak anymore. When Olive sang to express her feelings it was such a treat for me!

NC: Wicked is such a phenomenon, and much of that comes from your original performance as Glinda. Did you know how huge it would become when it began? What’s one of your favorite experiences from that show?
KC: I was definitely a part of something very special with Wicked. It is once in a lifetime that you can look back on something and know how unique it is. Wicked was always something I knew was different, but it has exceeded my expectations. I loved getting on stage every night and playing Glinda and I love that the love story was actually between her and Elphaba.

NC: I think that people really admire your commitment to your spiritual beliefs, while you are also very accepting of others. Have you faced challenges in maintaining that balance?
KC: Thanks for asking that. You know, I didn't set out to be this "Controversial Christian" but that is just sort of what happened. People challenge me on my beliefs all the time, but I just try to do my best and love people for who they are, no matter what. That's what I believe and I simply live my life as best as I can, trying not to judge others and loving everyone.

NC: You have won fans from your Broadway, opera, television, movies and recording work. What makes you happiest as an artist, and where would you like to see your career go?
KC: What makes me happiest is being able to do everything that I love. I love being able to shoot a movie in Canada, do a show on Broadway, and be on a TV show in Hollywood. I love making things people love to see or sing!

I sometimes get approached because someone will recognize me and I never know what they will know me for; for instance, I'll meet a trucker that'll know me from Wicked and a 3-year old that will recognize me as Miss Noodle (from Sesame Street). I just never know, and I love that because I get to do so many fun and different things. I just hope I can continue to work with such variety.

NC: If you hadn’t become a performing artist, what was your next biggest love?
KC: I would definitely have become a private investigator. I know it sounds strange but I am obsessed with any show on TV that has to do with crime scenes, investigating, et cetera. I would love to fight crime and work on crazy murder investigations.

NC: What if any roles or types of characters would you not want to play?
KC: Well, I love to play all kinds of different parts, so this is tough to answer. Many of my fans are young, so I like to make sure that the parts I chose aren't too risqué, but I am dying to be in a horror film.

NC: You have a huge following in the GLBT community. What kind of response do you get when you’re able to interact with your fans?
KC: I love my fans no matter who they are! I love seeing fans out and about, whether it is at a mall or after a performance. Everything I do is for my fans and I love hearing them say, "You are such a role model to me" or "Thank you for what you do." It makes my day to hear things like that.

NC: What would you tell young people who love your work and want to pursue a career in theater or music?
KC: Stay in school! I got my master’s before I pursued Broadway and I am so grateful my parents encouraged me to do that. Hollywood will be here.

NC: Have you ever felt star-struck when you met another performer? Who do you really admire?
KC: Gosh! Well, I was listening to Judy Garland as a kid, so all the greats. I recently met Bette Midler after her show in Vegas and was blown away by her performance. I was so moved and speechless. She was amazing.

NC: What else would you like your fans to know?
KC: I would want my fans to know that no matter what people tell you, you should follow your heart. I am 4'11’’ and have a very interesting speaking voice. I was told I would never make it as a dancer/actress and here I am. Don't let anyone stand in your way.

ARTrageous featuring Kristin Chenoweth will be performed this Saturday at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets and more information, visit their official website.

Interview by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.


Daniel Cook Johnson said...

Excellent interview - should be on the IMDb hitlist!

Neil C said...

Thanks a lot. I am excited to see her Saturday night! She's just great.