Theater, TV star Chenoweth to sing Broadway, country, more at Fraze

Tony and Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth, one of Broadway’s most wickedly gifted sopranos, will bring her special brand of charm and musicality to the Fraze Pavilion Saturday for a concert entitled “Coming Home,” a reference to her 2014 live concert and PBS television special held in her hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

In addition to her award-winning portrayal of Sally Brown in the Broadway revival of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and Olive Snook on ABC’s whimsical dramedy “Pushing Daisies,” Chenoweth has made many indelible imprints throughout her career.

Her TV appearances include “Glee” (particularly rendering an astonishing version of “Home” from “The Wiz’”), “The Good Wife” and “The West Wing” as well as the musical adaptations of “Annie” and “The Music Man.” Her film credits include “The Boy Next Door” opposite Jennifer Lopez, “Bewitched” opposite Nicole Kidman, “The Pink Panther” opposite Steve Martin, and most recently the Disney Channel’s live-action original movie “Descendants.” In the theater realm, she originated the role of Glinda in blockbuster musical “Wicked,” and also starred in the Broadway revivals of “The Apple Tree” and “Promises, Promises.”

Chenoweth has also collaborated with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops, National Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony. Last month, on her 47th birthday, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame presented by the legendary Carol Burnett.

In advance of her Fraze appearance, the bubbly, endearing triple threat spoke about her craft and what audiences can expect from her concert.

Q: Can you describe your experience ‘Coming Home’ last year? How did it feel to perform in your hometown?

A: Whenever you’re an artist and appear before your hometown crowd it’s more nerve-wracking, for me, than Carnegie Hall. You look out into the audience and see your family who loves you no matter what but also old friends and some people that weren’t your friends. Certainly I had a better singing night but the emotion was absolutely there. It remains one of the most special nights of my life.

Q: Let’s talk about ‘Wicked.’ What do you reflect on the most when you think back to that time? When you first heard ‘Popular’ did you have any idea it would become one of your signature numbers?

A: I always knew ‘Wicked’ would strike a chord with audiences. (Composer) Stephen Schwartz is a genius. I really wanted ‘Wicked’ to be a hit and I’m so glad ‘Popular’ became so beloved. I still find new ways to perform it. I’ve sung it in many different languages for many years now for fun. But Stephen Schwartz gave me a gem of a song and I take care of it. I grew up on ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Cats,’ and I’m so glad ‘Wicked’ has become that kind of show for a new generation.

Q: You’ve performed many juicy roles, most recently your fantastic, Tony-nominated portrayal of Lily Garland in ‘On the 20th Century.’ Which role do you consider the most challenging or demanding in your career thus far?

A: I’d say Lily Garland. It required high comedy, dance and opera. It was the hardest, most challenging role I’ve done but I was also the most happiest I’ve ever been onstage because it allowed me to do a lot of what I do best in one show. I actually promised the show’s lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green 15 years ago that I would do ‘On the 20th Century’ but I waited until it was the right time. I also enjoyed playing Lily because she is a woman. There is still a perception out there of me that I’m just a sweet little girl but I need to grow just like every actress.

Q: As you look ahead, are there any particular roles or projects you hope to pursue?

A: There are definitely things that come my way that spark my interest. There is a (stage version) of the hilarious movie ‘Soapdish’ that’s on my radar. I’m also developing a project about the life of Tammy Faye Bakker. I’ve also been approached to play Dolly Levi in a Broadway revival of ‘Hello, Dolly!’ But I still love doing concerts as well. I just want to keep singing. I feel so lucky to have options. With everything I do, I improve. I very rarely do jobs ‘just for the money’ because I don’t find it fulfilling.

Q: What do you hope audiences take away from your Fraze concert? What do you plan to sing?

A: Through this concert I want to remind people of what I believe because it’s important to show who you are as an artist. And I’ll be particularly singing songs from some movies I love as well as some new songs I’ve wanted to try in addition to Broadway, operetta and country-pop. Above all I want people to leave with a big smile on their face having been entertained.

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