For a woman of only 4’11”, Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth certainly knows how to command a room. Chenoweth, who gives true meaning to Shakespeare’s words, “And though she be but little, she is fierce,” is approaching the 20th anniversary of her Broadway debut in Steel Pier just weeks after the release of her album The Art of Elegance on September 23. Chenoweth, perhaps most famous for her role as Glinda the Good Witch in the original Broadway cast of Wicked, is taking on her most ambitious project yet – her one-woman show, My Love Letter to Broadway.
Not only is this a one-woman show, but she is also changing up the set list for every performance, making for the most impressive role she has taken on to date. Each night, audience members will receive a totally unique show. To add to the spontaneity, Chenoweth even hinted that there would be a variety of special guests making impromptu appearances. After giving the press a behind-the-scenes peek of a few songs she plans to perform, Chenoweth answered our biggest questions in her gentle Oklahoma accent, like why now is the perfect time for Love Letter, what she wants the audience to take away from her show, and the inspiration behind the ever-changing set list. My Love Letter to Broadway runs from November 2nd to Novemeber 13th at the Lunt-Fontanne theatre. Get your tickets now or miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime-show.
What made you decide to do Love Letter now, at this point in your career and life?
Well…they asked me to. It didn’t occur to me at the time that we would be in the middle of an election! The first week of the show we won’t know who will be our president and in the second week we will. You don’t know how many chances in your life that you’ll get the opportunity do [this show], so when it comes, you do it.
You’re joining a prestigious group of people who have had one-man/woman shows, have any of them been an inspiration for you and your show?
No pressure! I have been to a lot of them- Hugh Jackman, Liza [Minnelli] at the Palace many years ago, Bernadette [Peters], etc. The recurring theme that I’ve taken away is that you’re not hiding behind a part- you’re doing you. So that’s what I have to remember, I’m doing me – and not just me as a musician, but really as me. This is a great opportunity for me. I’ve been able to do it on the road and I’ve been having a blast – but this is Broadway. I’m not just going to come in and do what I’ve been doing on the road; this is going to be different every night. A lot of the things are new to me.
It’s true you’re changing up the set list each night? That’s exciting – and a challenge.
It’s a challenge, but as a live performer, I think, if not us, then who? I think it’s important especially for my young fans to see that I am continuing to push myself and move forward as an artist, and how else can we do that? There are songs that I am nervous about. It’s very different to record a song and then do it live; it’s a different beast. There are songs that have been in my past from 30 years ago that are making a debut. There are some songs that no one has heard by some of our Broadway composers that I’m doing – but you can’t do it all in one night. That’s why I get 12 shows to do it! And there’ll be some different people, some friends of mine, who will be stopping in on different nights.
What are you hoping that people take away from this show?
Those who know me, or think they know me, will get to see a new side. I am not a girl, I’m a woman – and that’s in my music now. I want people to laugh, I want them to leave the show and have forgotten about their own crap – the stuff we have to deal with everyday, for that two hours. That’s what I want.
Look at what Carol Burnett did in her show – it was never the same. It was my favorite show of all time, and they could rehearse those scenes but you saw how different it constantly was. And she talks about scenes that were so different once they had the live audience, or when she did the audience questions, which I adore. So she’s been a big influence on me, she taught me to not be afraid of the audience; you love the audience, so don’t be afraid of them. I want the people who were brought by their kids or their wives to walk away having had a great time.
You’ve played such a wide spectrum of roles in your career. How have you been able to avoid being typecast?
Well, thank you for saying that. Of course a little bit of me will be inside of every character, but I haven’t had a main typecast. That has taught me that I’m just a forever student of what I do and that has allowed me to grow. People ask me what I want to play next and I always say that I don’t know because it could be completely different. When I did Promises, Promises on Broadway, my character was a young girl who falls in love with a married man and cant get over him and tries to take her life. That’s not necessarily what people want to see from me, but I must continue on. I can’t just recycle. I’ll give people what they want, but I am also going to give them Willie Nelson and Stephen Sondheim. I’m 48, I’m not 28.
As you get to grow in your career, people get to grow with you.
Thank you – that’s true. A lot of people have. I then have these little bitty girls come up who say, ‘I saw you in Descendants.’ That means a lot to me too. But I want people to know not just what I sing but who I am.