You’ve surely seen Kristin Chenoweth somewhere. The Oklahoma native made her Broadway debut 20 years ago in Kander and Ebb’s Steel Pier. She later won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Sally in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and defined the role of Glinda the Good Witch in the premiere of Wicked.
She’s been in more than 20 feature films and was a fan favorite on television shows such as Glee and Pushing Daisies, for which she won an Emmy.
Currently, Chenoweth is touring in support of her sixth solo album, The Art of Elegance (Concord Records, September 2016). Produced by Steve Tyrell and debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Current and Traditional Jazz charts, the album is a collection of high points from the Great American Songbook.
When she takes the stage at Missouri Theatre tonight, she will perform these songs as well as others from her vast repertoire in what promises to be an evening to remember.
Here, Chenoweth drops a few hints at what the audience can expect.
Your album The Art of Elegance is a wonderful selection of pieces from the Great American Songbook. How did you choose which songs to include? Which are especially meaningful to you?
They all mean something different to me, which is why I picked them. My list originally was about 800 songs — no joke. Steve Tyrell, my producer, and I kind of whittled it down and it seemed to definitely point in the direction of classic standard music.
For me, there are two standouts on the album. One was honored with a Grammy nomination for instrumentation, orchestration and vocal: “I’m a Fool to Want You,” which was originally sung by the great Frank Sinatra, who also co-wrote the song.
The other standout for me on the album is “I Get Along Without You Very Well.” Of course, I’ve always loved Johnny Mercer, but I think Hoagy Carmichael is at the top of his game here. I’ll definitely be singing that in Columbia.
You have performed in some truly bucket-list venues: the Sydney Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera House. What have been some of your favorite venues, and what is your favorite aspect of touring?
I have been so lucky to be all over this great world. One place that’s never going to get old that I always, always honor that’s always a pleasure to be is Carnegie Hall. There are few women who paved the way. I think about the great Judy Garland with her famous concert there. I think about, just a few months ago, seeing Chita Rivera have her long-overdue Carnegie Hall debut. I was in the middle of doing my own Broadway show. On my night off, I knew it was her debut and I wasn’t going to miss that opportunity to see a legend. It taught me a couple of lessons, the main one being that no matter where you are in your life, you still have goals, and you can achieve them — and she did. It was a wonderful thing to witness and a wonderful thing to be reminded when all she has given this world.
Different audience members might be most familiar with your work in specific shows such as Glee or Wicked. Is this a factor in how you plan your shows?
Of course. I don’t want to disappoint fans I’ve come to know and love so much from these special works of art. I also have to honor my own spirit and my own artistry with constantly changing and evolving and growing and putting new music in. So, I’ll never forget the songs that are associated with my name, but with that comes new music as well.
And what about those songs like “Popular,” which the Wicked fans surely are expecting? How do you keep those fresh and fun for yourself?
Come see the show and find out.
I understand you’ll be sharing the stage at Missouri Theatre with some special guests. Without giving it away, can you give us any hints?
I always like to invite young artists from the area or students to join me in the last couple of songs. I think the Midwest has some great, wonderful talent. I am inspired by every group, and it will be no different here, I’m positive.