Wicked and Glee's Chenoweth: Big voice, big plans
Don't be surprised if Kristin Chenoweth bursts into song hosting her Friday-night Just for Laughs gala
MONTREAL — She’s best known for her superstar musical theatre roles: Glinda the Good Witch on Broadway’s Wicked, and April Rhodes on the TV hit Glee. But Kristin Chenoweth is far more than just a pretty voice.
Singing was her first love. Chenoweth grew up belting out gospel songs in church, studied musical theatre and opera performance, and launched her career in musical theatre in 1993. And now, two Tony awards and four Emmy Awards later, she’s done it all ... aside from host a comedy gala.
“Certainly not one of this calibre!” she exclaims, by phone from New York. “I just can’t wait to get there and experience it. This is a first for me — people should know that.”
But people should also know that the Oklahoma-born triple threat (she’s also performed on Dancing with the Stars) is as self-deprecating and wisecracking as she is vocally talented. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons for her success. Another reason could be that she claims to have always taken jobs that she loved. But there was a time when that wasn’t the case.
“Oh yes, yes yes yes. When I was 18, I was a freshman at Oklahoma City University. Like many college students, I was looking for extra money, and I took a job doing singing telegrams.
“I remember this one man — I was sent to him by three of his guy friends, and I had to sing You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling. He opens the door in a robe, and he looks like he’s recovering. He was really ticked off. I found myself comforting him. Of course now I would never go into a stranger’s house, but back then ... He invited me in for coffee and told me he’d had a vasectomy,” she pauses. “Needless to say, I quit that job”
The range of characters Chenoweth has portrayed is impressive — aside from Glinda and Glee, she made waves as Carlene Cockburn on ABC’s GCB (short for Good Christian Bitches) and won hearts as the lovelorn Olive Snook on Pushing Daisies. Most of her roles have had an element of her feisty, positive energy. Is there a type of character she’s never played but has always wanted to?
“Sure. I’ve always wanted to go undercover as a man. For me, the perfect part would be Yentl. The problem is I’m not Jewish. So I’d look for the Christian version of Yentl. Maybe she’d be called Hillary.”
She’s excited to come to Montreal, where she will be hosting a Just for Laughs gala Friday night, but not for the reasons you might imagine.
“I want to go to Tim Hortons,” she says. “I want to go shopping. I want to get out amongst the town. I always think what makes a place beautiful are the people.”
And what should we expect from her at Just for Laughs?
“There’s a misconception about me that I wake up and every day it’s rainbows and hearts and Lucky Charms — that my life is perfect, and that I don’t have to work that hard. I have my moments just like everybody else, and I maybe will show that side, that that’s not necessarily the case. But I am going to try to sing and use some of my musical talent.”
Kristin Chenoweth hosts a Just for Laughs gala on Friday, July 26, at 7 p.m. in Salle Wilfrid Pelletier of Place des Arts. For tickets and information, visit hahaha.com
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