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Interview: Kristin Chenoweth

We have our Wicked way with the star of Rio 2...

You all know who Kristin Chenoweth is! She's the perennially optimistic, chipper actress and performer who's appeared in Glee (back when it was good), Pushing Daisies and on Broadway as the first Glinda The Good Witch in Wicked. Playing Gabi, an adorable little pink and poisonous frog in the sequel to the 2011 animation hit Rio, Chenoweth took a few minutes to speak to us here at GT. We're not worthy!

What was the attraction of playing Gabi the frog in Rio 2?
The appeal was playing a new character in an animated film that is a sequel to one of the biggest hits out there. Gabi sings; she is pink and poisonous. And Carlos Saldanha is directing the film, so I said: “I'm in.” I love Carlos to death. He is such a good director. It didn't take much for me to say yes, because I love the idea of creating something new. With the huge success of Blue Sky's animation and the incredible world they've created in Rio, I knew I wanted to be a part of Rio 2 right away. It seemed like the right fit for me and it has been amazing. They are all very creative at Blue Sky and very confident. They know what they want and they know what they like.

Can you discuss the music in Rio 2?
The music is great. Let's just say that you're going to hear some opera with some rap! One of the songs (I Will Survive) is pretty well known. I'm Jemaine's backup in that song. But one of them was written for me, it's called Poisonous Love, by the composer John Powell. It is great when you have people writing for you, because they tailor the song for you. That is what they did in Vaudeville and musical theatre and opera in the old days. They wrote for the star. I'm honoured because it was written with my voice in mind. And that is another reason why I wanted to do the movie, to have a man of his calibre [Powell is an award winning composer who wrote the score for Rio] writing a song for my character. Also the role is very entertaining. I get to use my acting chops in a very funny way.

You inspire so many actors and musicians, who have been your greatest inspirations?
The main women who've inspired me are Dolly Parton, Amy Grant, Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Madeline Kahn and of course Barbara Streisand. They are real actors, a lot of them are musicians, but if you look at their work they are actors first. What also inspires me is the way they treat people. I look at how Dolly treats the people who work for her as well as what she is like with the people in the audience who want to meet her after the show. She is a professional and so appreciative of her fans. It is a really important lesson for young stars who have made it. They have to understand that for the people who are waiting for them, meeting them might be the highlight of their life; it would've been for me. So I do my best with fans. Of course I have my good days and bad days. I do not say hello to everyone, because there are some crazy people out there. But mostly I do and it's a joyous experience.

Any future projects you can share with us?
In May I have a big concert at the Carnegie Hall in New York. The concert comes from an idea I had and it's called The Evolution Of A Soprano. It is about how the soprano evolved into what we have now, how it is not just opera, it is Beyonce and Mariah Carey and different versions of the soprano, and that is something I'm really excited about. I have one week until I start training like an athlete for it, because my voice will need to be in top shape. That's what I'm seeing at the end of the tunnel.

Rio 2 is out on April 4. You can view the trailer below.

Edited by Joshua Hammond (@pictureshowmag)


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