by Michael J. Roberts
Michael J. Roberts is theatre editor for the ChicagoPride.com covering Chicago's diverse arts and entertainment scene.
Known for her roles in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Apple Tree, and Wicked, Tony-award winning and Emmy-nominated actress Kristin Chenoweth is regarded as one of the most iconic, golden-throated screen and stage performers of our time. The bubbly blond talked to ShowBizQ about the premature cancellation of her acclaimed show, "Pushing Daisies", her recently released memoir, "A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages", and how she manages to balance a unwavering faith with her belief in equality.
ShowBizQ: So to start things off, tell us a bit about "A Little Bit Wicked". How did this project come to be, and what has the process been like for you?
KC: Simon and Schuster approached me and said "we find you to be a person of interest". I just cracked up because I find myself boring. I guess they'd read an article I'd written about my adoption (for a magazine). It all came to be and it was healing and terrific fun and hard!
ShowBizQ: You studied musical theatre and opera at Oklahoma City University and under the direction of the esteemed Florence Birdwell. Who inspired you musically growing up?
KC: Florence Birdwell is my biggest inspiration! She not only taught me to sing technically, but taught me to sing from the soul about what a song actually means. Don't sing it if ya can't mean it! My favorite singers are a wide variety:
I love Dolly. I love Reba. I love Julie Andrews and Judy of course. I love Sandi Patti and Amy Grant. I love Allison Krause. I love Eminem too. I absolutely love the opera star Anna Netrebko. And I love the lead singer from the group Pink Martini.
ShowBizQ: If I may be so bold, what is your favorite musical to date? We've always been dying to know.
KC: My favorite musical? Are you kidding? That's like asking what my favorite ice cream is. I love so many!!! I'd have to say my top three are : The Apple Tree, Gypsy, and The Music Man.
ShowBizQ: Spirituality is so much a part of who you are and is a prominent theme in your memoir. What has been the most challenging experience that has either questioned, changed or made your faith stronger?
KC: The theme that runs through my life is God. I have struggled with being a Christian, and being judged for that, while at the same time being a person who believes in Gay Rights. It is a no-brainer for me. I seriously don't think any of us has the right to say who "should" fall in love and "who others are allowed to marry". It’s tricky with other Christians because of the belief homosexuality is a sin. If it was a sin to be 4 feet 11 inches tall, what could I do to change that. I wasn't a mistake, because He doesn't make mistakes. We are who we are. Period.
ShowBizQ: It has been fascinating to watch your development as both a stage and screen artist. You have spoken on your recent willingness to take some risks, such as that FHM spread or the famous Funny Or Die video. What has it been like to take these risks through various stage and screen roles that may have had the potential to turn some heads?
KC: I never get used to being in something really good, really worthwhile, and it closing, or getting canceled. Besides Wicked, I've never really been in a ginormous HIT. People think I have, but not really. I have loved every job I've ever had. That's just the truth. Every role has ended up teaching me more. I never leave without so much more knowledge or whatever medium I'm working in! It’s great. Life is constantly teaching me. How boring would it be if it wasn't that way!!!
ShowBizQ: You're one of a handful of actresses who can seamlessly transition between stage and screen. What has the process of balancing these two mediums been like for you as an artist?
KC: I don't really think of stage [as being] different from screen or tv. I think it all comes from the same place. Of course if you're onstage, there's an element of "playing to the back". But even onstage, there are so many times where subtlety [is] required! And vice-versa for TV and Film. If you're in the true moment, it doesn't matter what the venue is!
ShowBizQ: Also, since television can be a land of unexpected upsets, how have you dealt with things such as the premature cancellation of "Pushing Daisies" (one of our favorite shows, by the way)?
KC: I think the cancellation of "Pushing Daisies" is the crime of the century. I honestly don't know what to say! What does America want?Everyone says they're tired of reality TV, yet that's what everyone watches.
ShowBizQ: Besides G(a)linda, what is been you favorite role (either in theatre of television)?
KC: My favorite role, by far, has been the four roles I played in The Apple Tree. It’s a tour de force for any woman. It was a great opportunity for me to do it all. For any actress!
ShowBizQ: Finally, what would you like your fans and readers to come away with after reading "A Little Bit Wicked"?
KC: I hope people who read my book see that I'm far less than perfect, that I'm still learning and growing as an actress, singer, a woman and person of faith.
For more information on Kristin Chenoweth, please visit www.Kristin-Chenoweth.com. To purchase Kristin's new book, "A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages", CLICK HERE.