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Interview: Kristin Chenoweth

9 July 2014 Tom Butler

"What a great thing Glee has done for the arts programs in our schools. People actually want to be in choir now!"

We spoke to Kristin Chenoweth, star of The West Wing, Glee and Pushing Daisies, ahead of a concert at the Royal Albert Hall concert in July…

London Calling: You’re playing the Royal Albert Hall on July 12th. Can you give us a sneak preview of what the audience can expect on the evening?

Kristin Chenoweth: I will be doing everything from musical theatre/ operetta to country to disco ... It's a little bit if everything. I've also asked some stars from the London stage to join me. This evening will be a highlight in my career. I think of all the talent that has been onstage. So cool. And my music director, Mary Mitchell Campbell and I have a new song we are going to do. We added it to a show at Carnegie hall two months ago.

LC: Is this your first time performing at the Royal Albert Hall? Or indeed in London for that matter?

KC:I'm a Royal Albert Hall virgin. I did perform at the Diva at the Donmar series probably 13 years ago. I've also had the honour and privilege of singing for your Queen three years ago at the state dinner. A twenty-minute concert. It was so wonderful to be here for all those events. This is the third try for my solo concert. The first time I was to play here was two years ago. I was I injured and had to cancel. The second time didn’t work out either, so now the third time is the charm.

LC: Would performing in a West End production be on your bucket list?

KC: Yes performing in a show in the West End is also a dream of mine. I've been asked, but my schedule hasn’t allowed for it. Maybe someday soon!

LC: For which of your numerous memorable roles do you get recognized the most?

KC: I get recognized for different roles and I never know what people are going to say. Usually it is Glee. Pushing Daisies is another one, and Wicked. But then there is The West Wing. I never can tell what people will say they know me from. My favourite is when they ask me if I have a sister.

LC: All Wicked fans know you as the original Glinda alongside Idina Menzel as Elphiba! Going back to when you first read the script, did you realize then how big it would become?

KC: The roles I want to play are Mame. Dolly would be great. Those are a few years off. Maybe someone is writing something? I'm also attached to Soapdish. Next year, I will return to Broadway in the comedy On The Twentieth Century. A role created by Madeline Kahn. My favourite.

LC: You’re a classically trained opera singer, when and why did you make the decision to go into musical theatre?

KC: I love opera and am so thankful for the training. I always was an actress first though. And a dancer. It just kind of happened. I went to an audition in NYC on a whim and for a role. I had to decide between going to opera conservatory and the show. I chose the latter. I still train like an opera singer. What they do is amazing. And I want to keep the flexibility in my voice too.

LC: As a huge West Wing fan (the writing was amazing!), I’m really interested to hear what it was like to work on the show. How did the part come about?

KC: The West Wingalmost first happened when I was to start Wicked. I had to choose! It was a tough one. Then once my Broadway run ended in Wicked another role came about on The West Wing. I was so lucky to get to be on that show with such amazing actors. It is a tough one. Technical and artistically pleasing though.

LC: I can’t let you go without talking about Glee. Why do you think the show was such a huge hit? It seemed to take everyone by surprise at how big it became.

KC: Glee came about because the creator, Ryan Murphy and I had worked together on one of his films. He called and offered me the role of April. I’m so grateful to him for that. What a great thing Glee has done for the arts programs in our schools. People actually want to be in choir now. The show has made a great impact!

LC: You clearly keep yourself busy! What’s next? Theatre? TV? Film? An album? All of the above?

KC: What's next is concerts, acting and more Broadway. Then who knows? I love working and I'm lucky I get paid to do what makes me happy.

You can catch Kristin Chenoweth at the Royal Albert Hall on the 12th July. Tickets and further information available here.

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