Born on July 24, 1968, in Tulsa, OK. Education: Oklahoma City University, bachelor of arts degree in musical theatre; master of arts degree in opera performance. Addresses: Record company--Sony Music, 550 Madison Ave., 24th Fl., New York, NY 10022-3211. Website--Kristin Chenoweth Official Website: http://www.kristinchenoweth.com. Agent--Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA, 90212.
Kristin Chenoweth was born on July 24, 1968, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and raised in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Dancing and singing were a big part of her life. "I grew up singing gospel and country music, and it was one of the biggest influences for me musically. I loved singers like Amy Grant and Sandi Patty. ... and I was also listening to Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, but these are the singers that really made an influence on my life," she said in an interview with Robert Diamond for the Broadway World website. When she was 12, she sang for the entire Southern Baptist Convention, performing "I'm Four Foot Eleven and I'm Going to Heaven." She wanted to head to Nashville right after graduating from high school, but her parents insisted that she go to college. She studied at Oklahoma City University, receiving a bachelor of arts degree in musical theatre and a master of arts degree in opera performance. While there, she won the Miss Oklahoma University title, and was runner-up in the 1991 Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant.
She performed in a stage revue at Opryland and then won a Most Talented Up-and-Coming Singer Award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, which led to a full scholarship to Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts. Before leaving for Philadelphia, she took time to help a friend move to New York City, and while there she auditioned for an Off-Broadway show, "Animal Crackers," and was offered a role. She turned down the scholarship and accepted the part.
Chenoweth made her Broadway debut in a production of Moliere's Scapin, starring Bill Irwin. She followed that in the spring of 1997 with the Kander and Ebb musical Steel Pier, winning a Theatre World award. The following season she appeared in the City Center Encores! production of Strike Up the Band, and the Lincoln Center Theater production of A New Brain. She created the role of Sally in the first Broadway production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown for the 1998-99 season, winning a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
The year 1999 found her on television with a supporting role on the AMC comedy-drama Paramour. She was then cast in the ABC-TV remake of Annie. She had her first non-musical role on Broadway as the star of the comedy Epic Proportions. She then signed a deal with NBC for a 13-episode commitment for her own talk show, simply called Kristin, which premiered in the summer of 2001. The show did not do well in the ratings, but Chenoweth said she would try it again. The year 2001 was a busy one for Chenoweth, as she signed to play in the pilot Seven Roses on CBS, released her first CD, Let Yourself Go, and played Marian the Librarian in a TV production of The Music Man, opposite Matthew Broderick.
In October of 2003, she opened the Broadway production of Wicked as Glinda, the good witch, where, as described by Entertainment Weekly, she hung "suspended in mid air in a mechanical bubble, armed with a magic wand, a sparkling smile, and a soprano that soars far beyond the land of Oz." Wicked became a major Broadway hit, and Chenoweth was nominated for the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. In Dance Spirit, Chenoweth admitted to the challenges of both singing and dancing in Wicked: "It's hard because, growing up as a dancer, you learn to engage the exact opposite muscles---as far as the diaphragm---as you do to sing. The trick is maintaining your technique---keeping the breath coming from down low and not totally letting your stomach hang out when you're dancing."
Chenoweth has worked hard to stay in shape in order to keep up with the cardiovascular demands of her Broadway performances. She told Dance Spirit, "You've got to find ways to breathe while you're dancing so that when it comes time for you to stop and sing again, you have it. To prepare, I do a lot of aerobic activity. Many times at the gym, people will look at me because I'll be on the treadmill humming."
Also in 2003, she began an ongoing role on Sesame Street as Ms. Noodle. She also starred in a video/DVD with Sesame Street star Elmo, in Elmo's World: Happy Holidays!. In the spring of 2004, as she was finishing up her run in Wicked and rehearsing for a role in Pink Panther, she fulfilled her dream of singing the role of Cunegonde in Candide. The song "Glitter and Be Gay" from that show has become a staple in her concert performances.
In the fall of 2004 Chenoweth joined the television cast of NBC's Emmy-winning series The West Wing, as Annabeth Schott, the spitfire whiz at public relations. Of her busy career, she told the Broadway World website, "I don't vacation or have any sort of life. ... but there are bigger problems to have. I love my work so much, that I just want to do it all." In the spring of 2005 she released a new CD, titled As I Am, a collection of familiar Christian hits. "I've really wanted to make this spiritual, inspirational record since the events of 9/11, and I'm glad that I can finally put it out there," she stated on the Broadway World website. The album does include one non-spiritual song that has become a signature piece for Chenoweth, called "Taylor, the Latte Boy," a fun, lighthearted romp about a barista at Starbucks.
In the summer of 2005 she played Marie, the nosy neighbor in Bewitched, a film starring Nicole Kidman. Next came Pink Panther, with Chenoweth playing alongside Steve Martin and Kevin Kline. She then went on to work on the film Running with Scissors, starring Annette Bening and Gwyneth Paltrow. Further roles are planned, with Emma Thompson in Fiction and with Robin Williams in RV, both scheduled for release in 2006.
Chenoweth has performed with numerous symphonies, and held roles on and off Broadway, on television, and in film. It doesn't look as if her career will be ending anytime soon. But if it does, "I'm really interested in forensic science," she told Entertainment Weekly. "I'd love to learn about DNA and fighting crime."
by Sarah Parkin
Kristin Chenoweth's Career
Made Broadway debut in Scapin, 1997; appeared in Steel Pier on Broadway, 1997; appeared in Broadway's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, 1998-99 season; first television appearance in Paramour, 1999; signed with NBC for her own talk show, Kristen, 2001; released CD Let Yourself Go, 2001; starred in the TV production of The Music Man, 2002; appeared on Broadway in Wicked, 2003; appeared in ongoing role on Sesame Street, 2003; joined TV series The West Wing, 2004; released CD As I Am, 2005.
Kristin Chenoweth's Awards
Miss Oklahoma City University, 1991; Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions Award for Most Talented Up-and-Coming Singer; Theatre World Award for performance in Steel Pier, 1997; Tony Award; Drama Desk Award; Outer Critics Circle Award; all for Featured Actress in a Musical, all for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, 1999.
- Dance Spirit, July/August 2004.
- Entertainment Weekly, November 28, 2003.
- "An Interview with Kristin Chenoweth," Broadway World, http://www.broadwayworld.com (May 15, 2005).
- "Kristin Chenoweth," Internet Broadway Database, http://www.imdb.com (May 15, 2005).
- Kristin Chenoweth Official Website, http://www.kristinchenoweth.com (May 15, 2005).