Curtain Call: Chatting with Kristin Chenoweth

The “Popular” witch from “Wicked” on going solo

The woman who originated the role of Glinda in Wicked and won a Tony Award for her performance as Sally in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, will finally make her debut as a Hollywood Bowl headliner. Sure, Kristin Chenoweth has performed at the Hollywood Bowl, but this time around the Broadway star is front and center backed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. 

We had a chance to chat with Chenoweth as she was rehearsing in New York for her August 23rd and 24th shows. She’s excited and honored to be playing the Bowl, a venue that has served as an illustrious setting for Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, and Judy Garland. “It’s like when you walk on the stage at the Met or Carnegie Hall,” Chenoweth says. “You want to do them right and honor the place you are in. I want to do right by it and the women who have played before it.”

Chenoweth’s show, a mix of standards and show tunes, is being tailored for the movie capital of the world. “It’s a whole new first act. Most of it is new material for me. It’s an ode to movie musical songs—a lot I haven’t done before. I’m putting my own spin on them to remind people why we love them.” She wouldn’t reveal any titles but did say that one comes from a Julie Andrews movie musical. We’re hoping for “Le Jazz Hot” from Victor Victoria or “Piccadilly” from Star. 

At the Bowl, with its 18,000-person capacity, Chenoweth will perform for more people in a single night than she did in her recent sold-out week of Wicked performances on Broadway. “I think about that,” she says. “When I do television, I realize more people will see me in one night than would see me in most of my time on Broadway. My challenge, and I’m excited by it, is to make people feel like they are at home. It’ll be a fun journey but also intimate.”

While rumors swirl of Chenoweth starring in a revival of Hello, Dolly! or On the Twentieth Century, she would only say, “I see both shows in my future, but I can’t say when.” She is nonetheless concerned about the future of musical theater. “Sometimes I get a little nervous. What’s happening now that is making me uncomfortable is that shows are not written for stars. Or [for] making a star. I’d like to see some focus back on that.”

Before our chat was over, we had to ask about the picture she recently posted to Twitter: an image of Andy Warhol’s famous quote, “Art is what you can get away with.” What does Chenoweth think that she has gotten away with? “I’ve gotten away with surprising people,” she says. “Artists are so judged and divided and conquered. I keep surprising people, which is what people will allow me to get away with. I can’t do anything else. I’m an artist. That’s who I am.”