Wickedly good

Kristin Chenoweth brings big voice to Fraze

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Kristin Chenoweth will perform Aug. 29 at Fraze Pavilion

Kristin Chenoweth is that rare force of nature in the entertainment world that can seemingly do everything.

She has starred on the Broadway stage for the last two decades, most notably as the originator for the role of Glinda in Wicked. She has nearly two dozen film credits to her name. Her memorable TV roles include Annabeth Schott on The West Wing, Olive Snook on Pushing Daisies and April Rhodes on Glee.

A perennial awards season darling, she has accrued 23 nominations between stage and television. She won a Tony Award in 1999 for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and an Emmy Award for Pushing Daisies in 2009. In recent years, she has become a fixture on the talk show circuit.

Naturally, my first question was about Game of Thrones.

She is a huge fan of the show, and though she hasn’t read the books, she said she plans to after the series wraps. So, if she could invent a role for herself, what family would she choose and how would George R.R. Martin ruthlessly kill her?

Note: her answer has NO SPOILERS, so no need to throw the paper in the corner and light it on fire.

“I would love to play some relative of the character Brienne of Tarth, played by Gwendolyn Christie,” Chenoweth muses. “Maybe I’m the sister who didn’t get any height but is also a warrior. I could weave into places she can’t, and she could rely on me to see everything from below. I for sure could die saving her life, as her character is so awesome on the show and deserves to live. I don’t mind being beheaded, or possibly burned at the stake, but they’d need to get a person to scream for me. I can’t with the singing. You can tell I’ve put some time into this whole thought.”

In addition to her classical training in opera and her history in musical theater, she has also released pop/country albums. Her listening habits are also diverse and she can ultimately find value in almost any form or genre.

“I love all kinds of music,” Chenoweth said. “And even the genres I don’t love, I like. There is no way I’d be the person I am today without music. I don’t mean to imply I’m some great lady. I just mean music has the power to change lives and open people’s souls, and I feel it every time I hear a good song. Lately I am into Calvin Harris—I like his sound and what he can do with a song.”

When asked about an off-the-wall collaboration she would like to tackle, her answer was a bit shocking.

“I like Kanye West—yes that’s what I said,” Chenoweth laughs. “I like Eminem. I like rap because it is poetry. I probably could never do rap music because I am not good at it and I’d like to keep getting jobs, but I think it might be an interesting collaboration.”

Ultimately, any musical collaboration Chenoweth could dream up can work due to her considerable vocal chops.

While she’s known for her big voice, no vocalist can survive decades of singing without an impeccable sense of control and subtlety. While her work in musical theater often requires filling a room, she is acutely aware of a performance’s need to reach down to something deeper.

Simply put: All the technical ability in the world amounts to a hill of beans without emotional resonance.

“This is the goldmine when you can get both,” Chenoweth says. “There are some songs I feel like I think ‘Wow, I got it!’ Then, another will creep up on me. I will sing it technically perfect, but that’s all that’s on my mind. So where is the emotion? Where is the part that makes an audience laugh or cry? I work on this all the time. I constantly am growing and changing as an artist, and that’s why I’m thankful I get to do this. I guess my point is this: there are great singers out there. I’d rather FEEL something when I listen rather than just hear a great voice. That’s why I love going to fellow artists’ concerts that I connect with—because they make me FEEL what they are conveying. It’s OK if there is a crack, a high note lost or a belted note missing. If I feel it, I’m happy.”

Such a varied career and skill set means that when Chenoweth puts on a concert, she brings a wide pallet of choices for the show.

Fans can expect some country, pop, songs from movies and the standards.

“I’m excited to meet the fans in Dayton. I will have some new music to perform, at least new to me. I love songs from movies, and of course standards and country pop. All of it is represented, and it will always be fun.”

Kristin Chenoweth will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29 at Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., in Kettering. Tickets range from $50-85 and can be purchased at the venue or online. For more information, please visit officialkristinchenoweth.com. 


Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Rusty Pate
Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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