BWW Feature: Kristin Chenoweth's FOR THE GIRLS at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Emmy and Tony Award winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth's career spans film, television, voiceover and stage. Miss Chenoweth is the recipient of many awards and accolades including a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in "Pushing Daisies", a Tony Award for "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", a Tony nomination for her original role of Glinda the Good Witch in "Wicked" and for two Emmy Awards and for a People's Choice Award for her role on "Glee." She authored a candid, comedic chronicle of her life so far titled, "A Little Bit Wicked," which debuted on the New York Times Hardcover Non-Fiction Best Seller List.
Kristin was kind enough to slow down for a minute and allow me to catch up with this busy bee and answer a few questions for our readers. I hope you'll enjoy this delightful interview as much as I enjoyed speaking with this powerhouse of abundant energy and talent.
What inspired you to do this album, pick these women, and choose specific songs, such as, "You Don't Own Me," "Crazy", "I am Woman", and "I Will Always Love You", to name a few?
I wanted to take a little introspective look into why I love all the kinds of music I love. If you look at my record, it's everybody I love from, of course, my favorite Dolly to Linda to Carole King, Eydie Gormé. I think people forget how amazing Eydie Gormé was. Dianah Washington, my grandpa listened to on the record player when I was growing up. So this album is as much as a tribute to these ladies as it is to the people who introduced me to these artists. And that was a lot of my family. I didn't set out to do an all female tribute record, but looked at the songs I wanted to sing and thought - this is turning into that! And I'm so glad because I don't know of a time when I've been able to do an event like this, so I had to do it. That's why the live show is so fun, because I'm Leslie Gore-ing it up there, Aretha Franklin - these are not necessarily songs that I would think Kristin Chenoweth sings but they're just good songs and I wanted to do them. I wanted my audience to know - when people ask me why so many types of styles - this record is the reason why.
What can we expect at your concert?
On my tour "For the Girls" I have my band, which I don't always get to do and I have two female singers I'm bringing with me who I am very proud of, from New York. I don't like to call them my background singers because it's just the three of us representing women. One is Marissa Rosen and the other is Crystal Monee Hall. Both are incredible and when people come to see the show, they'll see that! In fact Marissa, I heard - I've never really talked with her about it but - I think she said pretty on the record that she was about to quit the business. But she has this incredible voice and everybody in our industry loves and reveres her. She just had her Broadway debut - we just did "For The Girls" on Broadway and I said to her, "you're gonna have it girl - you're having it", and now she's on tour with me! I think this is my way of saying to people, don't give up. I just want people to know that when you feel you just can't handle any more sometimes something will come in front of you. She didn't see that coming. And by the way, I didn't either! And Crystal is a fabulous songwriter!
Are you going to pop Dolly, Reba or your dog Thunder out of a suitcase on stage?
Definitely Thunder! I'll definitely be doing my Dolly and Reba and the reason for Marissa and Crystal is they have voices that can do everything. I put the puzzle pieces together with this show and they really shine. I am so proud of this show. It did really well on Broadway. It's the message - for the girls - it's exactly what I wanted it to be.
What is your message for women these days?
Stay strong and be strong! We're having a renaissance, as we know. I feel like women can be kind of tricky - especially with each other. I think that those days need to be over. I feel it from my sisterhood. Women who don't believe like me, aren't like me, or I'm not like, I feel are a kindred spirit now. These are our sisters, our mothers. aunts, our neighbors, our daughters, our friends! It's an interesting time, isn't it, and an interesting time to be alive.
A few years ago you did a reading for the musical Rise, about Tammy Faye Bakker, and expressed an interest in bringing this to the Broadway Stage. So is this musical "on the rise" so to speak?
The honest and true answer is, I have no idea. Marc Platt is out producer and I haven't heard anything about it. Maybe with this article we can get some answers!
OK MR. PLATT, TAG YOU'RE IT! HOW ABOUT AN EXCLUSIVE FOR OUR BROADWAYWORLD READERS? I'M READY WHEN YOU ARE! (AND SO IS KRISTIN)
What draws you to this role and Tammy Faye's storyline?
I would really like to tell her story because she was a woman who kind of went through a lot of crap. She was easily judged and I grew up in a time when people really made a lot of fun of her. She really just kept saying I just really love the Lord. She had addiction, her husband cheated on her - she had a lot to battle. Through it all she always looked to God and I want to tell that story. I don't know what's happening with the production but I hope it moves forward. I'd love to do it. I think it's a misconception with people of faith. We have addictions, we have infidelity, we have hurt. Look at Tammy Faye - she was kind of a caricature and people quickly made fun of her. I think she was a special lady and truly didn't know the business dealings going on around her. She looked to her husband to take care of a lot of stuff and she just wanted to be on TV and talk to God and try to raise a family. I don't think she was very comfortable in the role of moneymaker. Things just went haywire.
If you were not involved in the entertainment industry, what path would you have chosen?
This answer always freaks people out but it would be forensic science, forensic detective. I would love to have studied the science of forensics to better understand why people do what they do.
Do you have a charity your fans can support?
The Kristin Chenoweth Arts & Education Fund. I have the Kristen Chenoweth Theatre in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and we have a Broadway Bootcamp every year at the Tony's. I bring in all my fancy friends to teach and we do a week of intensive training. The auditions are in February and details will be announced soon. This will be our 6th year and it's growing and growing and growing! I am opening it up nationwide this year. People can check out the website and if they want to audition - they should!
Kristin is a passionate supporter of charities, which dedicate their time and efforts to helping those in need. She formed a charity partnership with the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center (BAPAC) Foundation in her home state of Oklahoma. Kristin's accomplishments were honored by her hometown with BAPAC naming "The Kristin Chenoweth Theatre" in 2012. Partnering with the BAPAC in a labor of love, Kristin launched an annual Broadway Bootcamp in 2015, providing young Broadway hopefuls with the opportunity to take classes, hold performances and learn from top mentors in the entertainment industry including Kristin herself. In her lifelong mission to cultivate arts education across the globe, she has also created "Places! The Kristin Chenoweth Tour Experience," is a unique educational program for young singers that puts them right next to her performing on stage. Each concert in her ongoing tour will feature local participants from higher education conservatories, universities, and colleges for the immersive educational experience. Miss Chenoweth is a graduate of Oklahoma City University with a Master's degree in Opera Performance. She is an inductee into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, as well as the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.
In recent news, Miss Chenoweth starred in the film "Holidate," on Netflix. She will be starring in and act as executive producer in the upcoming comedy series "The Biggest Star in Appleton," which is currently in the works at Disney Plus. Kristin starred alongside Scott Wolf in the holiday film "A Christmas Love Story," which premiered on Hallmark Channel. Along with the holiday season, Kristin just released her latest stand-alone Holiday single titled "White Christmas". Her latest album "For The Girls," debuted at #3 on the Current Pop Albums chart and #11 on the Billboard Top Albums chart. The album is a tribute to the great female singers throughout history, particularly some of Kristin's heroes and friends. Guest artists include Ariana Grande, Dolly Parton, Jennifer Hudson and Reba McEntire. The album includes Kristin's personal interpretations of classic songs identified with such iconic artists as Barbra Streisand, Lesley Gore, Linda Ronstadt, Dinah Washington,. To celebrate the release of her new album "For The Girls," Miss Chenoweth returned to the Broadway stage this past November in an eight-performance concert engagement at the Nederlander Theatre and can presently been on tour performing songs from the new album. There is a rumor she may be penning her autobiographical musical. Stay tuned!
For more about Miss Chenoweth visit: www.officialkristinchenoweth.com
Giving opportunities: www.officialkristinchenoweth.com/4good
Photo credit: Gian Andrea di Stefano
To learn more about the Van Wezel and their upcoming season of entertainment visit: www.vanwezel.org