Kristin Chenoweth may have made her Broadway debut in 1997 with Steel Pier, but the star’s love affair with Broadway began decades before—when she was just a young girl, sitting in her living room in a small town in Oklahoma. Today, the Tony-winning star has come a long way from her Midwestern roots, and is looking back on her longest relationship in a special two-week concert engagement at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, titled My Love Letter to Broadway. The show, which runs November 2-13, features a handpicked selection of musical theatre favorites.
“I was watching the Tonys as a little girl, and I saw Annie perform a medley. I didn’t even know what Broadway was, but I knew I wanted to be on it, which makes no sense!” says Chenoweth. “That’s all we had: the Tonys, the Oscars, and Miss America—that was it! I watched those, and that’s how I got fed, living in a tiny town. That’s where the love affair began.”
In a preview performance for the press, Chenoweth offered a sneak peek at what to expect from the solo concert. The selections included: “Popular” from Wicked, the show in which Chenoweth originated the role of Glinda and was nominated for a Tony Award; “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want To Do It),” performed by Judy Garland in Broadway Melody of 1938; Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “A House is Not a Home,” a song she did in the revival of Promises, Promises; and “Losing My Mind” from Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.
“I can’t say that Stephen Sondheim hasn’t been a big influence,” says the singer. “I haven’t done a lot of Sondheim, but I feel like I’m coming into a time in my life where it feels right. ‘Losing My Mind’ has always been one I’ve wanted to do. I guess I get it now.” The song, from the composer’s Tony-winning musical Follies, was originally performed by Dorothy Collins in the 1971 production at the Winter Garden Theatre. Chenoweth says she is excited to put her own “unique twist” on such musical theatre classics in her solo show.
My Love Letter to Broadway is a chance for Chenoweth to honor some of her favorite Broadway composers, such as Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), and Andrew Lippa, who recently wrote the oratorio I Am Anne Hutchinson specifically for the singer. “I guess I could say I’ve been one of his muses,” says Chenoweth of Lippa. “He seems to know what I want to say, and how I’m going to do it. He writes very well for me. More importantly, I think about what he’s given the world—there are shows that he did that people need to be more aware of, like The Wild Party.”
The star says that the concert is also a welcome opportunity to feature some lesser-known songs. “[It is] Broadway-centered, but I’ve also titled it that so that I can talk about some Broadway composers who have written songs that maybe nobody knows about—I’ve got a couple of those, which I’m very excited about,” says Chenoweth. Though what they are, she won’t reveal. Like a true Broadway veteran, Chenoweth is keeping a handful of tricks up her sleeve.
My Love Letter to Broadway, produced by James L. Nederlander, is playing the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre through November 13 with direction by Richard Jay-Alexander, and music direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell. Visit KristinOnbBoadway.com for more information.