Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth

Kristen Chenoweth with Joni Rodgers. A Little Bit Wicked: Live, Love, and Faith in Stages. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2009.

The author first appeared with the Tulsa Ballet while in second grade. Unlike many of the other girls, she absorbed what the teacher taught. She recalled how a small object could trip a dancer. While onstage as a rabbit, she saw a some greenery had fallen onto the stage, put it in her mouth, and hopped back to her spot. She felt encouraged when the director called her “my clever bunny.”

Having talent, and having worked to improve that talent, has provided Chenoweth with options in life. She chose a role in a new play “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” over a role in an established play “Annie Get Your Gun”, and won a Tony. She close a role on Broadway in a new show “Wicked”, which was successful, over a role on the TV show “The West Wing”, and still later appeared on the show. She chose a role on the TV show “Pushing Daisies” that made her more of a national name but was canceled over the Broadway play “Young Frankenstein”, which was a hit.

Her singing teacher, Florence Birdwell, taught her to sing with her entire body. She graduated from Oklahoma City University with a degree in Musical Theatre and later obtained a masters degree in Opera Performance. She entered pageants. She was second runner up for Miss Oklahoma. Her parents moved to Pennsylvania, where she faced less competition, yet heard the winner was rigged in advance, and was once again second runner up.

Chenoweth received several stage roles. She chose the role in the untested “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” which wasn’t ever assured to make it to Broadway, over a role on an established Broadway show. She decided she preferred accepting a new role.

Chenoweth’s first TV role was in an AMC miniseries “Paramour” that ended when AMC was sold to Ted Turner. Turner wanted the channel to have no original shows. She did an episode of “Blind Men” that was produced by John Markus. John Markus would later produce her TV show “Kristen”. When Jeff Zucker took over at NBC, he canceled “Kristin” and replaced it with “Fear Factor”. Jeff Zucker, though, would ask her three years later to return to do “The West Wing”.

Chenoweth enjoyed working with Joel Gray. She found him someone who cared deeply about his acting work, which she labels “part of a dying breed.”

Chenoweth enjoyed her cast mates on “The West Wing”. A line from her first show was when the 5’11” Allison Janey looked at the 5’2” Chenoweth and remarked “I can’t believe we’re members of the same species.”

Aaron Sorkin wanted Chenoweth on “The West Wing”, yet she turned it down. Ironically, he had left “The West Wing” when she later agreed to accept a role. He asked to meet her and they began dating. They had dated off and on, but say they’ll always love each other.

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