Chenoweth made her Broadway debut in the musical Steel Pier. With a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb and a book by David Thompson, it opened April 24, 1997, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Directed by Scott Ellis and choreographed by Susan Stroman, the cast featured Karen Ziemba as Rita Racine, Daniel McDonald as Bill Kelly, Debra Monk as Shelby Stevens and Gregory Harrison as Mick Hamilton.
The New York Times' Ben Brantley gave the show a mixed review. "Yet despite the flashes of grace and inventiveness in Ms. Stroman's choreography and the modest melodic appeal of the work's songs," he wrote, "Steel Pier is insulated by a fuzzy cover of blandness."
The production was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, but won none, and closed after 76 performances. Chenoweth received a Theatre World Award for her role as Precious McGuire.
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