Kristin Chenoweth Invites You to Take a Load Off

"I recently had a show where a man had his feet on the stage like he was at home. I said, 'Are you comfortable?'”

Kristin Chenoweth

(Illustration by Paul Kisselev)

She’s a TV, film and Broadway star known as the Original Glinda in Broadway’s Wicked, the Emmy-winning Olive Snook on Pushing Daisies and a boozy wash-up on Glee. Kristin Chenoweth is also an outspoken “liberal Christian” who has tangled with evangelicals over her support of gay rights. So why can’t anyone spell her name right?

I understand that the New York Times has had to correct the spelling of your name twice—you know the E instead of I. Maybe you should get one of those big necklaces with your name spelled on it.

I’d love that. My given name is Kristi, and my voice teacher said, “You really need to add the N to be taken seriously as an opera singer.” So I added the N, and I’m glad I did, but how hard is it? It was even incorrect for the first season of Pushing Daisies. Let’s just say I got a nice purse from Barneys.

How has theater changed throughout your time on stage?

People aren’t writing as much for the Broadway star. Now they’re asking us to sit into a role. I just wish that there were more people writing for the unique talent. I understand that people want to get out of movies and television to do Broadway, and I think if they can, they should. Sean Hayes and Annie Potts are born to do Broadway. I find it interesting when people say, “Oh, I think I’ll do Broadway if this doesn’t work out.” Well, good luck with that.

Another recent development is poor audience behavior. Any nightmare experiences?

I recently had a show where a man had his feet on the stage like he was at home. I said, “Are you comfortable?” He was embarrassed and we had a good laugh.

You’re a Christian in show business, an arena where people aren’t generally comfortable talking about being devoutly religious. Is it possible for Hollywood to make a TV show or movie with a dynamic, well-rounded character who happens to be devout?

I’m waiting for that to happen; I would love to be a part of it. I wish the truth didn’t scare us.

What can you tell us about your program at Carnegie Hall next week, Evolution of a Soprano?

It’s the evolution of me as an artist, a woman, and a singer. I’m also looking at my future, at roles I want to play. That’s what we have to do in life—look forward. Stephen Foster and Leonard Bernstein will be represented. There will be Italian music and Stephen Schwartz, so it’s all over the map, but it’s me, it’s my story.

How do you prepare for a performance when it’s just you up there?

All I’m trying to do right now is rest and not get sick—everyone is sick, and I’m walking around with gloves on like a freak all the time.