Whether it's starring as Velma Von Tussle in NBC's Hairspray Live!, her turn as Maleficent in Disney's Descendants, originating the role of Glinda in Broadway's legendary Wicked, or her slew of TV and movie credits, Kristin Chenoweth is a performing idol to fans tall and small. Admirers can experience the Emmy- and Tony-winning soprano in person this month as she brings her concert, An Evening with Kristin Chenoweth celebrating The Art of Elegance, to Boston's Symphony Hall on April 30.
What is the message you want to impart to your audience through your concert performances? I would like to show the audiences who I am as a person; and the way I get to do that is through my music. I also want people to walk away inspired to leave their mark on this world and not to be afraid to, whatever that is. To go for it...we have a short life.
What is the best piece of advice you've received from your parents? Don't sweat the small stuff.
Growing up, who were your performing idols? Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Sandi Patty, Madeline Kahn...you see that I have quite diverse taste.
There's a really touching photo on your Facebook account: you're kneeling at the feet of Broadway legend Barbara Cook with a look of complete adoration on your face. That photo could easily be recreated with any of your fans. What is it like to hold that level of esteem and awe -- especially with younger fans who grow up idolizing you? It doesn't go unmissed by me when a fan says that I've changed their life, or influenced their music, or made them want to be a singer. It just completely fills me up because I literally know exactly what they mean because I have women that I looked up to and admired, as well.
What is it about Wicked that makes it continue to resonate so heavily with audiences? Do you recall when you realized the show was transcending "Broadway smash" and moving into "seminal musical influence of a generation"? I think Wicked holds the themes in life that a lot of us value: friendship, forgiveness, and heartbreak and love. It's definitely something we understand and relate to -- no matter who you are -- whether you're green or full of glitter, over-confident or insecure, it resonates still. I think the first audience we ever had in San Francisco told me that I was going to be a part of a big hit.
What is your advice for young performers who want to pursue the stage or screen? What might surprise them about the career path? There's a lot of "business" in the "show business" part of it. So you're kidding yourself if you think it's just about talent. That being said, if you can see yourself doing anything else and being happy: Go do it; this is a hard life. But if you cannot see yourself doing anything else and being happy, then you should go for it with everything that you have, because it is also such a rewarding life.
A look at your social media reveals that you spend a lot of time working, but seemingly just as much time involved with charities supporting children, performing arts, the LGBTQ community, animals, and much more. How has charity become such an obviously important part of your life, and why is it so important to you to make time in your life for them? I think as I've gotten older, I've come to understand how important it is for us to leave our legacy and leave our mark. Of course I want people to know I'm a good singer and a good actress, but now I'd rather people talk about what I've left behind. And maybe I can inspire someone to do something big with their life. I'd rather people talk about my character; I guess it just comes with age.
You've always spoken freely about being an adopted child and the blessing it has been in your life. Have you seen the perception of adoption change since you were a child, and how so? Sure, a little bit. I can remember when I was little, some people would ask me in a hushed tone or whisper if it was true, if I was really adopted. Today, it seems like people don't make that big of a deal of it. It's more widely-understood. One of the reasons I loved the movie Lion this year was because of the theme: The mother just wanted her child to find his peace, his DNA, his history. She loved him so much and wanted him to feel safe about it. It's movies like this that we should be talking about, not in a hushed tone, but in a way to understand things better in this world. I always appreciate it so when someone wants to know about my adoption because it's all I've ever known. I've never felt embarrassed or bad about it. In fact, it's quite the opposite; I was raised by the family I was supposed to be raised by. My birth mother loved me so much that she gave me an opportunity that I might not have otherwise had.