- OnStage New Jersey Columnist
Kristin Chenoweth is a bonafide superstar. We have seen her in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”, “Wicked”, “On the Twentieth Century” on stage; “The West Wing”, “Pushing Daisies”, “Glee”, Disney’s “The Descendants” and in NBC’s live performance of “Hairspray” on December 7th; and in the movies “RV”, “Rio 2”, “Four Christmases” and most recently “The Peanuts Movie”. Tonight she went back to her roots and the eclectic audience who packed the Music Box Theatre at the Borgata in Atlantic City was treated to a synopsis of Kristin’s life and career up to now.
Kristin opened her show with the song “Should I Be Sweet” from the 1932 musical Take a Chance. You are probably asking yourself right now, “I’ve never heard of that show, why would she open with that?” The answer is simple and in the lyrics. The song asks the two age-old questions: Who should I be? Who could I be? Those questions define Kristin’s career as she has played the gambit of characters available to an actor. Throughout the evening, Kristin told wonderful stories about her career, and how she grew up (she has a connection to West Chester, PA) and sang songs that she felt represented her life, her views, and the most meaning to her.
Kristin sang “Taylor, the Latte Boy”, a song that she made famous fifteen years ago. Following that she sang a song, written by Jodi Marr, and dedicated to her father called “Fathers and Daughters”. Kristin then sang one song from her upcoming album The Art of Elegance. The album is a collection of American songbook standards like the one she sang, “I Get Along Without You Very Well”. Some of the stories Kristin shared were about her first acting experience as a child, what it was like growing up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and how some of the songs she would sing on Broadway needed to be edited for the Midwest audience.
There was a poignant moment in the show where Kristin told the audience to take a minute and be kind. She also said that we should all be grateful for our lives and then sang a beautiful rendition of “Bring Him Home” from the musical Les Miserables. Soon after that, and while the audience is still drying their tears, she was able to lighten the mood by singing “Popular” from Wicked, which she dedicated to Donald Trump. After a couple more American songbook standards, Kristin brought out an octet of seniors from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts musical theatre program. She then talked to the students and to the audience about “being yourself” and opened up about her faith. She told the audience you could be a Christian and be a gay activist as well. Kristin then closed her concert with two songs about her faith with the students singing back up for her.
Kristin returned to the stage after a standing ovation and sang two more songs. One of the songs was a favorite of mine called “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin. The song reminds us that a smile can get you through anything in life.
I had a few observations about the concert. The first observation was how diverse the audience was. There were Broadway fans and teenagers hoping to hear songs from musicals to seniors hoping to hear songs from the American Songbook and religious songs. None of them walked away disappointed. Kristin actually took a minute to thank all the boys, dads, and men who attended the concert because they may have been forced to. My second observation is that Kristin’s concert is emotionally charged and powerful. The set list that she picked for this concert brought out so many emotions in her. She openly shared them with the audience throughout her performance and her narrative in between the songs. Finally, many of us knew how great a singer and performer Kristin was, but I do not think many people knew or understood how humble and grateful she is for the life that she has.
Kristin Chenoweth will be touring domestically through May of 2017. If you have an opportunity to see her, Kristin is another must-see performer. You will laugh, you will cry, you will understand that Kristin Chenoweth is a force of nature, but still the girl from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Four out of Four Stars Concert
The Art of Elegance (release date September 23, 2016)