It’s been 10 years since Kristin Chenoweth dazzled Broadway audiences in “Wicked,” and told us how to be “Popular.”
Which is something she knows about. The diminutive but gifted singer and actress from Broken Arrow, Okla., has been about as busy as anyone in the entertainment industry lately. Sunday night at Proctors, she’ll be putting her vocal talents on display for Capital Region audiences in “An Evening With Kristin Chenoweth.”
“It will be a range of various types of musical genres including country, musical theater, Broadway and opera,” said Chenoweth, referring to her concert performance. “Each performance is different, and the audience is a big part of that, so I try to interact with them as much as I can. The more they are enjoying the show, the more animated and interactive I am with them.”
Chenoweth, reached by email earlier this week, is performing in Greenvale on Long Island on Friday night before traveling to upstate to Proctors. She began singing in her church choir and went to the University of Oklahoma, where she majored in musical theater and earned a master’s in opera.
‘An Evening With Kristin Chenoweth’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $90-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
After finishing second runner-up in the 1992 Miss Oklahoma pageant, Chenoweth moved to New York City to pursue a theater career. In 1997, she made her Broadway debut in “Steel Pier” and won a Theatre World Award. Two years later at the age of 30, she claimed a Tony for her portrayal of Sally in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Then, in 2004, she earned another Tony nomination for playing Glinda in “Wicked,” the Broadway smash that sealed her celebrity and helped move her into television and film.
“It was a long process,” Chenoweth said of her “Wicked” experience. “We started readings three to four years before it ever hit Broadway. It was interesting to see how they changed the show over time to make it what it became. It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world because I learned some of my biggest lessons during that span and I’m very honored that people associate me with such an iconic part.”
While she did do some theater in high school, Chenoweth also was a cheerleader.
“I got my start singing in church, but eventually I joined theater in high school,” she said. “But in a small town like Broken Arrow, it felt more like ‘Friday Night Lights.’ One of the ways for me to perform was to be a cheerleader. It sounds weird to say but being in drama and choir, there were only a handful of us and we didn’t do a lot of shows, so I got out there and made up some dance routines and tried to perform them any way I could.”
Dolly Parton fan
Growing up, Chenoweth, who stands 4-foot-11, was a big fan of another blond singer, Dolly Parton (who is an inch taller).
“I’ve always loved Dolly Parton,” she said. “It seemed to me like she was acting every time she sang. I also loved Christian singer Sandy Patty because she was an incredible high soprano and could do anything with her voice. They were both very big influences on me.”
Chenoweth performed in “Wicked” for nine months in 2003 and 2004, and then transitioned into television work. She secured a role in “The West Wing” beginning in 2004, earned an Emmy for “Pushing Up Daisies” in 2009 and had a recurring role in “The Good Wife” in 2012. Throughout much of that time, she had another recurring role as Alice Rhodes in the hit television show “Glee,” earning Emmy nominations in 2010 and 2011.
“Thankfully I am nothing like April Rhodes,” Chenoweth said of her character, a talented and likable but troubled high school dropout who returns to school years later and continues to wreak havoc. “I don’t like boxed wines, I don’t squat in other people’s homes and I’m not an alcoholic. But that’s what makes her so fun to play. She’s a hot mess, but the challenge in playing her is to still make everyone love her.”
Peter pan possibly?
Chenoweth is also a favorite to play the title role in an coming live production of “Peter Pan” on NBC later this year, but she’s not so sure.
“My phone hasn’t rung yet,” she said.
Chenoweth’s last album, “Some Lessons Learned,” came out two years ago and was a big success. She’s so busy with her television work it’s difficult to find the time to return to the recording studio, but she’s thinking about it.
“Interestingly enough, I’m really trying to figure out now what that is,” she said of her next recording project. “I miss the big sound of a full orchestra. I could possibly see an opera record, but I don’t know. I guess the next few months will tell me what I need to know.”