Despite the fact that she's preparing for a solo concert in London later this month, looking forward to a Broadway return in On the Twentieth Century this winter, and should have started learning the music for Andrew Lippa's I Am Harvey Milk "yesterday," the indefatigable Kristin Chenoweth is thrilled at the idea of adding a potential musical version of TV's Pushing Daisies to her docket.
"At this point in my life what I'm really looking for is things to challenge me that I know I'll have fun doing," said Chenoweth, who is so dead-set on bringing the fun to her London fans that even a last-minute tour cancellation couldn't keep her away for long. In a recent chat with TheaterMania, the Broadway darling expressed delight at crossing a Royal Albert Hall performance off her bucket list, struggling through singing "Popular" in Japanese, and giggling through the German version.
How does it feel to finally have the chance to do this concert in London?
I feel like it's just a relief. This is like the third time's the charm. Originally, what I was going to do last year was a four- or five-city tour, but I just said to my manager, "Time got away from me. You know, if a date opens up at Royal Albert Hall…," since I hadn't made it there yet in [a solo-concert] capacity. But the date became available, and I went for it.
And I'm excited to play the venue. It's been one of my dreams as a singer. We all have bucket lists, and this is one of them for me. I just can't wait to get over there to those audiences.
What can audiences expect from the concert?
I was on a tour about a year and a half or two years ago, and this is an amalgamation of that concert and the one that I did last summer at the Hollywood Bowl and then Carnegie Hall. So it's sort of like "The Best of," but [also] a lot of it is new — stuff that's come into my life over the past two years.
[And] there'll be things from Wicked that I know people will want to hear. But there's also a little bit of operetta, a little bit of pop, pop-country. It's everything that I do in one show. Definitely there's comedy and standards that people know and love that I put my own spin on. And it's just something I'm really proud of. I'm gonna make an exciting announcement soon of different people from over there who are going to be singing with me.
Why did you choose On the Twentieth Century for your return to Broadway?
Mainly because [the role was] created by somebody I admire very much, Madeline Kahn. And of course Judy Kaye took it over to great reviews as well, and it really made her a star too. I think it's a challenge, and I'm always looking to challenge myself. This is a comedic role, but it's operetta, and it's physical.
Perfect for you.
It's perfect for me, and I think we're gonna have a really good time. It's not going to be a walk in the park. It's going to be difficult, but you know, a challenge that I'm ready for and excited about… It's an old-fashioned romp is what it is. And it's not been revived. No one's seen it in forty years. So in a way it'll be like putting on my stamp.
You won an Emmy Award for the TV show Pushing Daisies. Is a musical version something you would be interested in doing?
Oh, for sure. People don't understand that we got canceled on a Christmas break, so we didn't get to say goodbye to each other and there was no closure. So I would love to have that happen. And [creator] Bryan Fuller writes his language, his speech, in such a musical way anyway, it just would make sense. And it had a very unique and special look, and that was [director] Barry Sonnenfeld's genius mind. It was just one of those shows that I'm really glad I was a part of.
In your concerts, you often sing a multilingual version of the Wicked tune "Popular." Which languages are the hardest and most fun for you?
The hardest is Japanese, for sure, because it's one of those things that I have to spell out phonetically for myself. German, Italian, and French — I definitely speak dialects pretty well because of the opera stuff. But Japanese is not my second, third, fourth, or fifth language, you know?
The most fun is German because it just sounds so harsh. It sounds so opposite from the song, and it makes me laugh every time I do it.
Click here for tickets to Kristin Chenoweth's concert at London's Royal Albert Hall.