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NUNN ON ONE Talking with the 'Popular' Kristin Chenoweth
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2014-05-07

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Singer-actress Kristin Chenoweth continues to have an award-winning career, taking home an Emmy, a Tony and several others. She won her Tony her role of Sally in Broadway's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, along with Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Featured Actress in a Musical.

Her performance as Glinda the Good Witch in Wicked made her "Popular" on Broadway and helped ticket sales on Promises, Promises, starring with Sean Hayes.

The talented sprite has landed big roles in movies like Bewitched, Running With Scissors, You Again and Four Christmases along with television hits such as Pushing Daisies and The West Wing. Recently, she appeared in the 100th episode of Glee and the film Rio 2, and is appearing in an upcoming Jennifer Lopez project called The Boy Next Door. On top of all that, she recently returned to Carnegie Hall for the first time since her sold-out concert in 2004.

Nunn chatted up Chenoweth before her arrival at the annual Goodman Theatre Gala.

Windy City Times: Hey, Kristin. You are one of my favorite people to talk to because we both have been adopted from Oklahoma in common.

Kristin Chenoweth: That is crazy!

WCT: I tried to meet you the last time you were in town by the Cadillac Palace stage door after we had spoke on the phone but there were about a million fans back there.

Kristin Chenoweth: And you are like, "I'm going to rethink that decision..."

WCT: I thought they were going to have to fly you out of there on a magic crystal bubble, like your role as Glinda in Wicked!

Kristin Chenoweth: [Laughs] That's hilarious. I am very lucky with my fans. That night was crazy. I think that was a makeup concert because I had gotten sick before, which was a total bummer. I am always happy to be in Chicago and was happy to come back and do it.

WCT: Your show was spectacular. I loved the cowboys.

Kristin Chenoweth: Thank you very much.

WCT: So excited about you performing at the Goodman Gala.

Kristin Chenoweth: Me, too. It will be fun.

WCT: You performed for their gala in the past.

Kristin Chenoweth: I want to say it was like seven years ago, Jerry. I feel like it was in a ballroom but I just remember how it was set up. Isn't that sad that I remember my gigs by how they are set up?

I love everything that the Goodman does. The Goodman's reputation speaks for itself. Though I have never worked there I have always wanted to because it is very prestigious as Broadway itself. I am excited and honored to be asked back.

WCT: How do you plan what you will sing?

Kristin Chenoweth: I always switch it up. Right now I am doing an amalgam of the past three concerts I have done. I did this show on PBS called Dames of Broadway. I did a Hollywood Bowl show that was pure Hollywood movie songs, well not every one of them, but that was the conceit of the program.

This kind of crowd will appreciate some of the lesser known songs but I will also throw in some songs that are very well known. It is kind of a new show actually.

WCT: It is very intimate in the Hilton's space there.

Kristin Chenoweth: Yes; I always want to know my audience and the room. I remember how appreciative people were there last time. That really means a lot to me. Obviously I am getting paid to come there but I don't ever take a gig for the money. That is not me. I think I wish it were me more because I would be a lot more rich! I always want to do things that matter to me and not just because.

WCT: Your buddy Matthew Morrison did the Goodman Gala one year.

Kristin Chenoweth: I love that. That makes me so happy! He's such a good guy. I love him.

WCT: How was it being on Glee again for the 100th episode?

Kristin Chenoweth: It was so fun because I was back with my kids. It felt like home. I was there in the beginning before any of them hit and before it had aired. I remember thinking, "Oh, don't anybody change." For the most part they are still the same people. That is what makes me so proud.

WCT: I spoke recently to Lea Michele, and she was different than I thought she would be. She seemed very sweet.

Kristin Chenoweth: She is. She's my little nugget!

WCT: I was worried she might be a diva but she wasn't at all.

Kristin Chenoweth: That's because people get jealous and they talk, saying mean things about people. If I believed everything that was said about me I would be in a straight jacket in a crazy farm.

I think she is fantastic. I love that kid.

WCT: How was it being a part of Rio 2?

Kristin Chenoweth: Really awesome. Such a great franchise to be a part of. I love the story and the music. They wrote a song for my character. My character was new in this movie. I fell in love with her and the process. I really enjoyed it. I am happy it is doing so well at the box office. That is always nice when you love it and it does well.

WCT: What inspired your short haircut?

Kristin Chenoweth: Oh, I did a movie this past fall and I wanted to look different. I wanted the character to be different from how I had been looking with long blonde hair. The star of the movie is Jennifer Lopez, and we were talking about it when she suggested I cut my hair. I wanted to but I was scared. We went online and looked at different styles. That is how it started.

I loved it and I thought it was perfect for the part. That is the main reason I did it.

WCT: Do you ever get starstruck with any of these people like J.Lo?

Kristin Chenoweth: At first I get starstruck but then I think, "Well, we have to work together," so I have to get over it. You have to be good. When you are starstruck or inhibited in any way, that stops your best work. Plus she makes you feel real comfortable. I can't say enough good things about that woman. I adore her in every way possible. I hope we work more together and continue on because she is such a professional and she is show business. Do you know what I mean when I say that? She gets it. There is not a lot of people like that still. I respect that.

WCT: Will Pushing Daisies be a musical?

Kristin Chenoweth: Well, they sure should make it a musical. Brian Fuller discussed it with me a few years back and recently again online. I just really encourage him to do it because it is a fantastic world and it would lend itself so well to a musical. I would love to see it. What more can I say? He better hurry up or I am going to play one of the aunts!

WCT: Are you going to be in On the Twentieth Century for your next musical endeavor?

Kristin Chenoweth: It hasn't been announced yet but I am certainly in final negotiations for that show. It is on my bucket list. I can't imagine leaving this earth and not having played Lily Garland. I have to do it. It is going to be quite challenging and it is a very difficult thing.

WCT: We have to get Hugh Jackman on it as well, since he did the reading with you.

Kristin Chenoweth: He did the reading and we would have been so lucky to get him but with his schedule I would be one foot in the grave before he got to it! He told me I had to do that show. He said, "It's you and have to do it!" He is a really great encourager.

WCT: Have you seen a favorite recent musical?

Kristin Chenoweth: I have so many musicals that I have to go see. I want to go see Pippin because Annie Potts is in it. I want to see If/Then, Idina Menzel's new one. I still have not seen Matilda. I want to see Bridges of Madison County because Kelli O'Hara went to my university. I'm proud of her and want to go support her. I want to see these things.

WCT: Thank you for all of your support in the gay community.

Kristin Chenoweth: First of all, you are welcome. I would do it for anybody that was persecuted against. It is a big civil-rights issue. I think we are making steps in the right direction, which makes me happy.

I foresee lots of great changes in our future. I just pray that it continues because I don't even think it should be an issue. I am in a quandary about it. I realize it's the "fly over states" as they are calling it but I don't understand. Even if you are against gay marriage or a gay lifestyle, I don't understand what it has to do with you. You know what I mean? So what? It has nothing to do with you!

I want all equal rights for all and anything I can do or seek out or say, I will.

WCT: I will see you at the Goodman Gala.

Kristin Chenoweth: Come say "hi," honey!

KC and her sunshine band will perform at the Goodman Theatre Gala benefitting their education and community engagement programs, Saturday, May 17 at The Hilton Chicago.

Visit www.goodmantheatre.org or call 312-443-3811 ext. 586 for ticket details.


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