Chenoweth is headed home later this month to
"I'm going to do probably two different shows. There are staple songs I'm always going to sing, but I'm going to try out some different stuff," she says in a phone interview, including new songs that fit well at recent concerts at Carnegie Hall and
Those eclectic tastes, though, come not from trying to avoid being limited by expectations about the type of music she sings, but because her career has been so multi-faceted. "I'm just so lucky in my career. All the roles I've done have been kind of different. Very different, actually."
Chenoweth's music concentrated more on gospel and opera in her early years before she made musical theater a career focus. She worked in regional theater and off-
Chenoweth starred in "Candide" (with the
She sang and danced for TV musicals of "The Music Man" and "Annie," but is also known for non-singing roles on TV's "The West Wing" and "Pushing Daisies," as well as film roles in movies that include "Bewitched," "RV" and "The Pink Panther."
Her concert career has been a recent career focus, and she's proud of how varied the song selections are based on all her experience.
"I am constantly trying to challenge myself -- as an artist, as a singer, as a person and as a woman. All these things," she says. "I know that people go, 'Oh, that's her schtick, she does a lot of different things. She does country and theater and opera,' and you know what? I wouldn't call it my schtick so much as I would call it what brings me joy.
"What songs I pick are for a reason. I don't just sing something to sing it. It's all part of the story for me.. "» As much as I love to do things that show what my voice can do, it's never gratuitous. It's never just to show off. Some of the best things I do are very small, limited, quiet things, you know? What's most pleasing to me are those songs."
Quiet isn't the image Chenoweth usually projects, being recognized more for a fast-talking, bubbly, outgoing and often comic persona. She's known for being just 4-foot-11-inches tall, but often having a big smile, an expressive face and manner, and extravagant gestures in her performances.
Treasuring the quiet moments in her concerts, though, has happened more and more in the past couple of years, she says.
"I have learned that you earn those quiet moments, if you will and they become just magical. You have to earn 'em, though because it's more that I want the audience to come to me and listen to me in those moments. "» It's a beautiful thing when you have an audience that's willing to go on a ride with you, because I think it's a team effort, if that makes any sense. It's both of us, the audience and myself."
Chenoweth will be back on a
In the comic operetta, Chenoweth will play a temperamental actress who producers need to convince to do their show in the time it takes a train to cross the country. The role was originated in 1978 by
"I've always loved (Kahn). I've always kind of thought there's something about me that reminds me of her and her of me and, I don't know, I've just always felt like I understood her and I get her," Chenoweth says. "I'm just excited that now people are going to get to see (the show), my young fans are going to get to see it."
And while she enjoys doing television and film, Chenoweth says she feels most successful in those mediums when she's made a cameraman or prop master -- her audience -- laugh or cry.
"I'm such a creature of being in front of a live audience," she says. "It's what I prefer."
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