Kristin Chenoweth will perform some material from her upcoming album, "For the Girls."

Kristin Chenoweth will tap Broadway, new songs at Cobb Energy PAC concert

The singer/actress is a champion of arts education  

Kristin Chenoweth still vividly recalls the day Kenny Leon participated in a momentous day in her career.

During a rehearsal of “Hairspray Live!” in November 2016, the Atlanta-based Leon, who was directing the production for NBC, invited a buddy on set to talk to his cast, which included Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle.

The petite Chenoweth was focused on mastering her character’s baton-twirling skills when Leon approached her and said, “Denzel wants to say hi.”

Yes, as in Washington.

“Knowing that Denzel was there, I was like, please ignore that,” Chenoweth recalled with her trademark giggle. “That day was a huge moment in my career. What do you say to Denzel? Everything you do is perfection?”

Chenoweth’s devoted fans would probably bestow a similar superlative in reference to her multi-hyphenate career: a Tony Award for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”; an Emmy for “Pushing Daisies”; a lifelong association with “Wicked” (for her Tony-nominated role as the original Glinda); a series of lauded TV roles (“The West Wing,” “Glee,” the underappreciated “Trial & Error”); film turns (“Four Christmases,” “The Pink Panther,” “Bewitched”); and a music catalog of six albums, with a seventh, “For the Girls,” arriving this fall.

Some of those songs – interpretations that pay homage to women who musically inspired Chenoweth, from Dolly Parton to Dinah Washington – will be represented when the 50-year-old dynamo takes the stage at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on Friday. The concert is tied to the annual Overture Gala benefiting the ArtsBridge Foundation, which has a champion in Chenoweth, an active participant in several arts organizations in her native Oklahoma.

Tony winning singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth will perform at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on March 29, 2019, as part of the annual gala for the ArtsBridge Foundation. Photo credit: GIAN DI STEFANO

“To me, (arts education) is all it’s about, especially now,” a delightful Chenoweth said last week during a break in rehearsals for a couple of concerts in Palm Springs, Calif. “I want to do as many of these (types of shows) as possible. I’m going to have some kids sing with me. I want them to see that sometimes you come in tired or limping, but you still go on, you still do it. And I love Atlanta. I’ve been there twice and the audiences have always treated me with such respect.”

Chenoweth will be joined by students from Milton High School and Kennesaw State University’s musical theater program for one song during her set, which she said is ever-evolving.

In addition to some of her influential women songs, Chenoweth will tap material from her last album, 2016’s “The Art of Elegance,” which spotlighted classics from Cole Porter and George Gershwin. She also usually shares her love of the Eagles and, of course, Broadway.

“I love Jerome Kern, but I also love Dolly Parton. I love all kinds of music and on a record, I don’t always get to do that wide of a variety, but live I can. I really do like to talk about why a song has affected me or someone in my family. I want to revisit songs that people kind of know, but have maybe forgotten. And I’m going to do ‘Popular’ (from ‘Wicked’) – and happily so. Certain songs are attached to me,” she said, before adding, “We should all be so lucky.”

Along with her upcoming album – which will likely arrive in September – Chenoweth recently spent a month in North Carolina to film the Hallmark Channel original, “The Christmas Song,” with Scott Wolf.

She’ll also be back on Broadway soon-ish. Chenoweth is attached to two projects – the life story of Tammy Faye Bakker (a musical, in which she would portray Bakker, who had remarried and was known as Tammy Faye Messner at the time of her death in 2007) and a musical based on the 1992 Meryl Streep/Goldie Hawn dark comedy, “Death Becomes Her” (Chenoweth would play the Streep role as Madeline Ashton).

“It’s kind of a race to see which one is ready first,” she said with her usual enthusiasm.

But first, the concert stage awaits.


CONCERT PREVIEW

Kristin Chenoweth

8 p.m. Friday. $46-$76. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.  

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