Kristin Chenoweth promises a ‘Wicked’ good time at the Ridgefield Playhouse’s gala
Kristin Chenoweth is a living example of the phrase “good things come in small packages,” as the 4-foot-11 dynamo is known for her amazing voice on Broadway, her quirky character roles in movies and on TV, and her oodles of charm in just about every performance she’s ever done.
Chenoweth shot to fame in 1999 after winning a Tony for her performance as Sally Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” though she’s best-known for her renowned run as Glinda in the Broadway smash, “Wicked.” Other memorable runs on the Great White Way include roles in “The Apple Tree,” “Promises, Promises” and “On the Twentieth Century.”
On television, she’s played such memorable characters such as Olive on “Pushing Daisies,” Annabeth on “West Wing” and April on “Glee.”
“I’m very proud of the work I’ve done and have been blessed with some amazing roles,” Chenoweth said. “The critics have always enjoyed these choices and that makes me understand I am on the same planet as everyone else. I know what I think is tasteful and funny and good and that always seems to line up with them and that makes me happy.”
On Sept. 28, the Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress will perform a night of Broadway classics as the special guest at the Ridgefield Playhouse Fall Gala.
With so many songs to choose from, Chenoweth is planning something special for the night, but promises she will sing “Popular.”
“Obviously. I will sing a couple of songs from ‘Wicked’ because I know people want to hear that and I want to give it to them,” Chenoweth said. “I will pay homage to some lady singer songwriters from my new record, ‘For the Girls’ and also sing some songs from my last album, ‘The Art of Elegance.’”
She also shared there will be a little bit of everything — from opera to country to Broadway, and hints that there “may or may not be a special guest star who is a well-known composer.”
Preparing for the gala is no different than any of her beloved concert performances around the world — whether it was at Carnegie Hall or Royal Albert Hall.
“It’s still a show and I don’t know how to phone things in, so I will make this special to this particular gala,” Chenoweth said. “And I’ve never not known how to talk, so I will share what’s in my heart and on my mind.”
“For the Girls,” which will be released the day before the gala, pays tribute to women singer-songwriters such as Dinah Washington, Judy Garland, Dolly Parton and Eva Cassidy.
“It’s a celebration of women,” Chenoweth said. “It’s important for me to recognize even singer songwriters like Chely Wright, who is a giant in the country music industry, and there’s an original song I wrote with her that I am excited to play for people.”
There’s a big part of her that wants to be a mentor to her young audience and teach them about some of these songs and singers who they may not be familiar with. It’s something she realized when doing an episode of “Glee.”
“Ryan Murphy had me sing, ‘Maybe This Time’ from ‘Cabaret’ and I just assumed everyone knew that song, but so many people reached out to me on social media asking where the song came from,” she said. “I just died because these kids don’t know. I want to let them know who came before me and even some who may be younger than I. Just because you like one certain type of music, doesn’t mean they can’t research some others and learn and appreciate others.”
The recording also has four special guest singers, doing duets with Chenoweth — Ariana Grande (“You Don’t Own Me”), Dolly Parton (“I Will Always Love You”), Jennifer Hudson and Reba McEntire (both on “I’m A Woman”).
“These are some of my favorite singers in the world,” Chenoweth said. “‘I Will Always Love You’ is a song I’ve loved since I was a child. I used to think, ‘one day, I’m going to sing that song.’ Little did I know that I’d get to sing it with the queen herself.”
Looking to the months ahead, Chenoweth has a few things in the fire, including two new movies coming our way. She stars alongside Scott Wolf in the holiday film “The Christmas Song,” which is slated to debut on Hallmark Channel in November; and the film “Holidate” alongside Emma Roberts, which will premiere on Netflix in 2020.
“The one I’m so excited for everyone to see because of the special subject matter is ‘The Christmas Song’ and I really hope people will watch it,” she said. “Chely Wright and I wrote the title song for it and we’re excited for the world to hear and see what we’ve been planning.”
Also, last December, Chenoweth performed with the iconic Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra for their annual Christmas concert and it will air on PBS sometime around Thanksgiving.
For now, she’s excited about the upcoming release of her album and coming back to Connecticut where she has so many great memories. She fondly remembers working with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward for their Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and holds a special place in her heart for the legendary couple.
“I just love going to Connecticut; it feels close to home and there’s a certain producer and composer [Stephen Schwartz] from ‘Wicked’ who lives in the area, as does Harvey Fierstein, so I’m hoping to see some good friends while I’m there as well,” she said. “The night is going to be a fun time and a celebration of music. Hopefully, there will be a little bit of tears, lots of laughter and people can forget about their lives for 90 minutes.”
The gala begins at 5:30 p.m. and Chenoweth’s performance beginning at 8 p.m. For more information, visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org.