BWW Review: AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH KRISTIN CHENOWETH at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Florida bears the title of the "sunshine state" and the city on the bay glowed warmer and brighter last night when the incomparable Kristin Chenoweth took the stage and our hearts at Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Ms. Chenoweth is a radiant performer who can easily be compared to a ray of sunshine. From her warm demeanor, brilliant performance, and glitzy wardrobe, you know you are in the presence of something celestial.
Tony recipient for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Tony nomination for Glinda in the powerhouse musical Wicked, Emmy winner for Pushing Daisies, and innumerous roles on stage, film and television barely touches the surface of the talents and accomplishments contained this little bundle of energy. Whether you know a little or a lot about her illustrious background, you would come to expect An Intimate Evening With Kristin Chenoweth to be fun and flirty, containing typical concert fare of a variety of pop and Broadway tunes. What you will experience is an impassioned evening of emotionally charged tributes and a few inspirational numbers that will make you laugh, cry and feel good all over.
Ms. Chenoweth performs many songs from her new release The Art of Elegance and opened the evening with Should I Be Sweet from the musical Take a Chance. Gracing her flirty side, she asked the audience if she should be hot or sweet. From the nudging of the audience, hot won out. She poked at Mariah Carey singing her iconic anthem Popular from Wicked, joking that Mariah called her, seeking help to regain her reputation, after Mariah's New Year's Eve lip sync mishap. She ended the song stating, "sing live, and that's all I'm going to say about that".
What made Kristin so personable was her loyalty in showing some love to friends in the audience and a tribute she paid to the parents of a young lady who impressed her with her poise and sense of propriety, attributing them with benevolent parenting. Although the Van Wezel is a good size performance hall, Kristin's interactions with the audience, frequent chats and stories woven between her set list, draw you in and really do make for an intimate evening.
Kristin is unapologetic in the kindest way about being a devoted Christian. Her singing career started in church and she explained it was important to her that Jesus remained a part of her show. With her ever-present sense of comedic timing, just before her glorious rendition of Upon This Rock, she amused the audience by saying, "for you non-believers, this will only take 4 minutes." The audience roared. Without hesitation she went on to acknowledge her Jewish fans with a sweet, "shalom!" Although she has taken some criticism for her liberal Christian views, embracing gay rights, she stands firm in her love of humanity and non-judgmental compassion.
Some of the set list included fan favorites Taylor, The Latte Boy, Kristin's ode to her Starbuck's barista, and of course Wicked's Popular. I Could Have Danced All Night from The King and I will send chills down your spine. You'll ask yourself where are these notes coming from! We were all tapping our toes to a lively version of Zing Went the Strings of My Heart. An unexpected fusion of Always on My Mind and Losing My Mind were so beautifully scored and performed. Bring out the tissues for Bring Him Home, Jean Valjean torch song from Les Misérables. On their feet for an extended standing ovation, the crowd was not going to let her go at the close of the program without an encore. Stepping away from the mic Kristin lullabied us with Smile.
Thank you Ms. Chenoweth for allowing us Sarasota sun worshipers to bathe in the warmth of your enchanting glow. Please come back soon.
The Art of Elegance is Kristin's first album of American Songbook classics. Kristin has joined the cast of a new CBS pilot, New Citizen, playing a partner at a Boston law firm. For more information on Ms. Chenoweth visit www.officialkristinchenoweth.com