GT Stage

Review: Kristin Chenoweth

Enter stage right: a Broadway leading lady

Arriving within the first five minutes, after a small montage of her career highlights to-date, the 4ft 11” Oklahoma-born star walked out to cheers and applause and stood centre stage to receive her welcome from a highly receptive waiting audience. Chenoweth then landed straight in with a song before beginning the first of many regular interludes, even drinking from a Starbucks and later McDonalds cup. After three attempts to visit the UK, the blonde bombshell seemed instantly relaxed and comfortable, winning the love and support from her audience.

Totally effortless yet beautifully understood, the Broadway leading lady took her gripped audience through her illustrious career with a selection of her favourite shows, roles and composers, and performed many with a reason or meaning. Chenoweth explained: “I sing it because it means something to me. It’s not just because I like it.” Telling any aspiring performer: "You might not be what they are looking for - but go anyway. I was a small chorus girl. A chorus girl that could belt an A flat.” Including a short story of her mishaps in Buckingham Palace and with the UK Prime Minister during a recent visit, the Broadway star continued to talk with her audience, even joking: “I’m Christian, but I love gays. I just don’t think you’re a sinner" whilst singing her way through her career highlights.

Supported by a band of local London talent, under the superb musical direction of Mary Mitchell Campbell, proclaimed as her friend and soul mate. Regularly making jokes at herself, she performed a beautiful religious number, explaining: "For those that are religious, this is for you. Those that aren’t, this will all be over in four minutes” and a censored lyrical retake on A Chorus Line with a newly renamed 'Boobs and Bum’, changed for a local production in her small Christian neighborhood.

After a short interval, she returned and gave what many will have been waiting for: Wicked. Adorably marking her way through Steven Schwartz’s score, Broadway’s first Glinda then performed Popular, with added multi-lingual lyrics. Discussing when tour life becomes difficult, she often watches replacement Glinda’s from the varying productions perform the role that she originated over 10 years ago. Explaining that the London production had caught her eye, she introduced the first British Elphaba Kerry Ellis to the stage to deliver a powerhouse performance of For Good, including a small selection of the productions staging, much to Kristin’s delight. A display of the best of both Broadway and London talent: the duet receiving a full standing ovation.

Other performances came from Peter Lockyer, current star of Les Miserables with the Bacharach/David duet One Less Bell to Answer/A House is Not a Home. Chenoweth famously performed the same duet on Glee alongside Matthew Morrison. With every song generated the emotions of hearing these classics for the first time, she later delivered a rendition of Bring Him Home. Telling the audience to ‘get ready’, she was then joined by the utterly phenomenal vocals of Alison Jiear with the pair performing the Streisand/Summer disco hit ‘Enough is Enough’. Country, gospel, disco or musical theatre: her vocal versatility impressed beyond anyone’s standards. Chenoweth also sang numbers she had written herself, including one about her favourite performer Dolly Parton titled ‘What Would Dolly Do?’

Additional highlights included performances of Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, Maybe This Time and a song accompanied by footage from Chenoweth’s own charity during the closing moments of the evening. A beautiful reflection of a woman that had fought to make herself and her career exactly how she wanted. The evening closed with an acoustic tribute to Dolly and ‘I Will Always Love You’. Before leaving, she thanked her band, supporting performers and her audience, simply saying: “Thank you for making an artists dream come true."

As excitable and popular as expected, yet vulnerable and regularly visibly emotional, it is rare you can experience a performer that has the poise and honesty that Kristin holds. It’s clear the Broadway star is proud of both herself and her achievements: making the journey through memory lane even more enjoyable.

No doubt an evening that many will discuss for a long time, Kristin Chenoweth is a true rare talent and one that will be loved for many more years to come.

GT gives this: 5/5

Words: William J Connolly

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