DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Tony and Emmy Winner Kristin Chenoweth

By Andrew Gans
01 Jun 2012

Chenoweth on "GCB."
Photo by ABC/Karen Neal

Without her TV obligation, Chenoweth is free to pursue several stage projects, including a Broadway revival of On the Twentieth Century, the stylish 1978 musical comedy set on the 20th Century Ltd., the luxury-liner train that used to travel between Chicago and New York City. Chenoweth will play Lily Garland, the role created by one of her inspirations, the late Madeline Kahn. "Yes. Yes! Yes, yes, yes. That's what this frees me up to do," Chenoweth exclaims, "and I'm very excited about it. I think that it will probably happen in the spring because I know that the tour may be extended to London and Australia and some more dates here in New York."

Chenoweth is also attached to the new Tammy Faye Bakker musical Rise, which is now being shepherded by her former Wicked producer, Marc Platt. "We'll probably do another reading — several more readings — to fine-tune it. The music is incredible, I have to say. I don't even like to say things like that about things I'm in, but Henry Krieger...It's his best, I think," Chenoweth says, adding, "The character I understand. I understand the whole Christian network television deal, and I think she was ahead of her time in a lot of ways. She was so accepting and loving of all kinds of people. She really was the epitome of what we're supposed to be as Christians. She had a tough life. Some people would call it denial. I call it… She had hope. She believed in her husband and family, and she was enjoying success, and that's the story of the show...I would really love to play that character, and I will make sure that it is done correctly... We're just going to make it as good as we can before we bring it in."

Chenoweth in Broadway's The Apple Tree.
photo by Joan Marcus

But, for now, the award-winning artist is focusing on her concert career. "I'm just thrilled [about this tour], and that's what you have to do... when something bad happens, move on and move forward, like 'GCB' being canceled. It actually took me by surprise. I found out when I was in Berkeley at my sound check. I burst into tears. I surprised myself. I was like, 'I've been to this barbecue [before]. Why am I…?' 'Pushing Daisies' was cancelled — that broke my heart. I think it's because you invest so much in characters you play and things you do, and it's always a little bit of an 'Uhh!' I think when that goes away, I should retire because I don't ever want to lose that. As far as TV goes, I would definitely consider it, but right now I'm so focused on my music, and I'm so happy to be doing that. It makes me very fulfilled, and to be honest with you, for the first time in 12 years, I'm doing just one thing. I'm doing just this, and I like it."

Chenoweth's tour is currently scheduled to conclude June 24 in Broken Arrow, OK. "We have a new performing arts center there, and they're renaming the auditorium after me," Chenoweth relates, "and that's kind of something that you say, 'No. No, no, no. I'm not dead yet. I'm not ready for that.' But my mom said to me the other day, 'Just embrace it. Kristin, embrace it. Life is short.'"

[Tickets for the concert are available through nycitycenter.org, CityTix at  (212) 581-1212 or the City Center Box Office (131 W. 55th St. between 6th and 7th). Tickets for the after-party benefiting Maddie's Corner are priced $350 each or two for $600; e-mail info@maddiescorner.org or call (516) 672-4288.]

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.