Stage and screen star Kristin Chenoweth, who won her Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, returns to The Great White Way November 2 in her solo concert, My Love Letter to Broadway, which continues through November 13 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Here, the acclaimed singing actor recalls the most memorable performances she has witnessed as part of the audience.
Obviously, I have a special part in my heart for Joel Grey and his original portrayal of the Emcee in Cabaret. When I saw Alan’s performance, I was so blown away by how he made it his own. It was totally “him.” It was completely different than Joel. And in my mind, if you’re going to revise someone’s role that is so known for the actor, it’s always a good idea to cast someone completely different. Alan played it less sinister and more sexy. It felt like everyone in the room wanted an evening with the Emcee. It’s a performance I remember; as I walked out, I thought, “I hope to have a role so fit for me one day.” It inspired me.
I moved to New York and saved my money to stay in the back and watch Guys and Dolls. I’d been listening to the soundtrack in college and wanted to see the live performances. Of course, everyone was wonderful. But it was in that moment that I understood just how fabulous Peter Gallagher is. Peter sang like a dream, he was sexy, had complete command of the stage. He’s one of the best actors I know. He was Sky Masterson. I think Brando would have been proud. He was also standing on stage with incredible talent, not just holding his own, but leading the entire show… that is Sky Masterson’s job. Any lady in the audience would have happily gone to Havana with Sky Masterson. Hell, probably any man, too.
Victoria Clark in A Light in the Piazza
Vicky has a skill set that contains a technically perfect voice accompanied with an ability to inhabit any character. However, this time she broke our hearts, made us laugh, and sang like an angel. Song after song, I kept wondering if she would top herself, and then the song “Dividing Day” came on. Talk about tears… she did the smart thing and never showed us. It was a masterclass for me. That song is still in my rotation on my iPad.
Let’s face it: no one should be able to do what Bebe Neuwirth does with her body. She’s a noodle. And then, she’s funny. And then, she captures the audience with her dry wit. I can’t remember if I was envious or thrilled as she threw up her leg next to her face, slowly, and with ease, and then held it there. Did I mention she sang as she did this? Sure, Bob Fosse is in her body. This is an address where she’s comfortable. I say, “Thank God” — it was a sight to behold, one of which I pay so much respect. What she did eight times a week shouldn’t be possible. I wonder if she took ice baths every night. The truth is she probably sleeps in splits.
From one clown to another, I understand that people want him to do “Nathan.” He’s the best at it for sure. For me, he was also able to find some real heartfelt moments. Tour de force is too small a term for Nathan. Now having watched him on The Good Wife and on Broadway in Waiting for Godot, I know that he is one of the best actors alive. Pretty much want to work with him. Clowns unite!
Matthew Broderick in The Producers
I’ve been fortunate enough to do two movies with Matthew. His ability lies in being the most simple, and we buy everything he does. He rides the line so beautifully between too little and over the top. He weaves easily in and out of plays, musicals, and film. I think he’s great in everything he does.
Roger Bart in The Producers
I’m a little partial here, as we did Charlie Brown together. And I watched him create a meal out of the song “Suppertime” — we really bonded during this time. I’m pretty sure I wet my pants during The Producers, watching him slowly and methodically get away with eating the scenery. I look forward to seeing what he does next.
Gary Beach in The Producers
Can you tell I like The Producers? Very simply, no better moment than watching Gary Beach in drag, sit down on the edge of the stage, and do his Judy Garland. Just enough of a wink though, but really freaking funny. He, too, is an actor that can do anything. Gary disappears in any role he plays. I admire him.
Sean Hayes in An Act of God
Here’s another one I’m partial to, as we did Promises, Promises together. He was so nervous on opening night, I had to tell him he was more than capable and born to play Chuck Baxter. Of course, I’d seen him in Will and Grace and laughed my butt off. There is a very virtuosic portrayal of Jerry Lewis that he did a few years back about Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin; it was dead-on. Then I go and see him in An Act of God not once, but twice. He’s lovable, funny as hell, cute, and 100% gets comedy. He understands the beats, when to move, when not to move; he is also an actor that knows his strengths. Every part he’s played he has scored.
Those who know me know I love her in anything. She particularly broke my heart though in the revival of A Little Night Music. This is my favorite Sondheim musical. I couldn’t believe seeing still how youthful she is, but seeing the pain across her face and in her voice as she sang Desiree. When I watch her, I think, “I hope I’m that good someday.”