Diminutive Diva Kristin Chenoweth
Diminutive Diva, Kristin Chenoweth’s big voice and bright smile have been lighting up stages and screens for decades.
What Kristin Chenoweth lacks in height she makes up for in vocal power, acting ability and fashion sense. The 4’11”, 46-year-old superstar has thrilled Broadway audiences with her work in such shows as You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (which earned her a Tony), Wicked and Promises, Promises. She’s also a frequent TV and film actress, best known for her roles as Annabeth in The West Wing, Courtney in
Four Christmases, Olive Snook in Pushing Daisies (for which she won an Emmy) and April in Glee. And did we mention she regularly sells out concert halls and major arenas? Last fall, Chenoweth released her latest CD, Coming Home, a concert version of which also aired as a PBS special. She’s currently appearing on Broadway opposite Peter Gallagher as tempestuous 1930s film star Lily Garland in the Roundabout
Theatre Company’s revival of the hit musical On the Twentieth Century. Accent recently caught up with Chenoweth to chat about her career, her fashion choices and her favorite pieces of jewelry.
The character of Lily Garland in On the Twentieth Century has long been on your radar. How does it feel to finally get the chance to portray her on Broadway?
It’s definitely been on my bucket list. The composers, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, told me before they passed away that I was the next rightful owner of that role. I’ve always kept that in the back of my mind, and it seemed like now the time was right. And here I am doing it! I’m very nervous, because it’s a difficult score to sing, and there’s some major physical comedy.
When you play a character like Lily, who is a bit of a diva, which parts of your personality do you draw from?
I guess there is strength in me that I can only see at times when I’m being pushed to the limit, and Lily is a push-to-the limit type of character. And vocally she’s a soprano, so that is
right in my wheelhouse. The character you’re best known for may be Glinda from Wicked.
Do you ever get tired of singing songs from that show at your concerts?
Sometimes I wonder if the audience really wants to hear Popular again, but they prove me wrong every time. They always do!
How did you choose which songs to record for Coming Home?
It’s a culmination of songs I’ve been singing my whole life, so it’s more of a career record. Gospel music is a big part of my life, so I included a song I grew up singing, Little Sparrow, which is a tribute to Dolly Parton. There’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which I’ve been singing since I was itty-bitty. And I Could’ve Danced All Night from My Fair Lady shows my vocal training. Everything I do is represented on that album.
What are your favorite things to do off-stage?
When I need to get away, I like to go to Cabo San Lucas and lie by the pool and drink margaritas and hang out and eat. I also like to just stay in bed and watch TV. Tell us about your sense of fashion, both in real life and on the red carpet. I keep it pretty simple. I think simple is better when you’re petite. And I like to mix and match. If I get a dress from Zara, then I’ll pair it with Christian Louboutin shoes.
Do you have a surefire look for attracting attention?
I don’t think cleavage ever hurts. How do you use jewelry to complete a look, and what are some of your favorite pieces? I don’t do a lot of big jewelry unless I’m on stage. Personally, I like smaller stacked necklaces and rings. I have a brand-new pair of broken arrow earrings that my friends gave me knowing I’m from a little town in Oklahoma called Broken Arrow,
so currently those are my favorite.
Have you inherited any family jewelry heirlooms that mean something particularly special to you?
There is a black onyx ring that my grandma had. She gave it to my mom and my mom, not too long ago, gave it to me. That’s one of my prized possessions. So is another ring that my grandma had throughout her life; it’s an opal with diamonds around it. Those are the kind of things on which you can’t put a monetary value.