Kristin Chenoweth to 'elate' Park City audience

Published: Saturday, Dec. 29 2012 12:00 p.m. MST

PARK CITY — Kristin Chenoweth called me “sweetheart.” And I melted.

There’s a disarming lure to Chenoweth that forces you to immediately adore her. It could easily be her sparkling smile or her Midwestern speech lilt. But it’s most definitely her colossal pipes. As Glinda the Good Witch, Chenoweth and her chandelier–rattling belt introduced two now-standard songs of the Broadway canon, the comic gem “Popular” and the show’s anthem “Defying Gravity,” in the runaway hit “Wicked.” But there is also the hysteric charm of “My New Philosophy,” written for her to premiere in the “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” revival.

Making her Utah concert debut, the Tony- and Emmy-winning performer will again steal audience members’ hearts at the already-sold-out New Year’s Eve concert at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, a fundraiser for the Park City Performing Arts Foundation.

“For my concerts I select the songs that inspire me and speak to me personally, with songs I know that everyone wants to hear. But I also like to try out new material and see how the audience responds,” Chenoweth says from her publicist’s office in Los Angeles. “And I also don’t like to repeat myself too much. I really want to continue to grow as an artist and improve however I can.”

Chenoweth’s growth as an artist began when she was 10 years old, and at that early age she discovered what she was “born to do.” Playing a rabbit in “The Nutcracker” ballet, she saw one of the sugar plum fairies lose part of her costume. Thinking “What would a bunny do?” she hopped to the piece of potentially injuring costuming, picked it up in her mouth and then hopped back to her place on stage, to the laughter and cheers of the small audience.

The Park City concert is part of a brief tour and will be one of her first since a serious accident last July on the set of the CBS series “The Good Wife” sidelined her. A large piece of lighting equipment hit her in the face, then slammed her to the ground, and the back of her head hit concrete.

Suffering a five-inch skull fracture, two fractures to her nose and broken ribs, she has called the episode “life changing,” forcing a review of her perspective on life and a focus on “only doing things that really matter.”

Judging by the reviews for her first post-accident engagement at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, Calif., her “personal elán and ability to elate an audience” is back, and she’s delivering her A-game. The Los Angeles Times noted, “Chenoweth’s range, timbre and versatility are in peak form, with astonishing top notes, equalized registers and a delicious ability to variegate attack from number to number.”

“I’m very much looking forward to performing in Utah,” the bubbly blond says. “I’ve performed privately in Utah, but never in a concert, so I’m looking forward to Utah audiences.” Her previous New Year’s Eve gala performances have included the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and other prestigious venues.

“I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t performing on New Year’s Eve,” she explains. “But I like that. I like to be able to work. It’s a blessing, really.”

Along with her roles on Broadway and her New York debut in “The Steel Pier,” Chenoweth sang the role of Cunegonde in the New York Philharmonic’s 2004 concert performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” a treasured part of PBS’ Great Performances series.

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