Kristin Chenoweth At The Hollywood Bowl

  • Kristin Chenoweth performs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Kevin Stites at the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 23
    Photo: Lily Lim from Broadwayworld.com

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By Jerry J. Sharell
Los Angeles

"You have to go to the Bowl," is something most Angelenos will command you do. I say it every summer, yet with September upon us I had yet to visit the historic outdoor music venue tucked away in the Hollywood Hills. So, on Aug. 23 I packed my insulated cooler bag with wine and cheese and headed to the Hollywood Bowl for a night publicized as part music from Hollywood films and pure Kristin Chenoweth.

Emmy- and Tony-winning performer Chenoweth took to the stage in an Oscar-worthy gown by Mark Zunino to open her two-night stay at the Bowl with Doris Day's GRAMMY Hall Of Fame-inducted "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)," prompting an audience singalong, which set up the evening perfectly for what would be two hours of pure bliss. Under the direction of Richard Jay-Alexander (co-director of Barbra Streisand's Back to Brooklyn tour), the pace, song choices, banter and, of course, Chenoweth's voice were all simply perfect.

Sipping from a 7-Eleven Big Gulp cup, Chenoweth zipped through act one with stories of movie songs that have inspired her throughout her life. She belted out Judy Garland's "The Man That Got Away" (from A Star Is Born) and danced to an exuberant rendition of Dolly Parton's "9 To 5" (from 9 To 5). And you could hear a pin drop when she delivered the poignant Randy Newman composition "When She Loved Me" (from Toy Story 2)," proving that the seasoned actress can deliver a song complete with storytelling emotion and powerful chops. 

The act two overture featured songs from the Broadway hit "Wicked," while photos of her work in film, TV and on the stage flashed across the big screens. With that, an unkempt Chenoweth made a comical entrance to proclaim "I'm Tired," a song originally put to film by the hysterical Madeline Kahn in 1974's Blazing Saddles. As act two was touted as "Pure Chenoweth," the singer whisked us through some of her personal choices, including "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three" from "A Chorus Line," during which she altered the racy lyrics just as she had when she sang the song in her hometown of Broken Arrow, Okla., as a teen. 

In what I refused to believe was an unplanned moment, Chenoweth plucked Sarah Horn from the front row to sing "For Good" from "Wicked" alongside her and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Kevin Stites. Who's Sarah Horn? Well, Chenoweth had no idea, but after scanning the crowd and asking a few people if they knew the song, she settled on Horn, a voice teacher who held her own opposite Chenoweth not stumbling over lyrics or harmonies. Apparently, I wasn't the only nonbeliever in the crowd who thought this couldn't have been organic, because Horn has since set the record straight

It was all true. What a moment!

The fireworks finale — always a highlight at the Hollywood Bowl — was set to a soundtrack of Chenoweth singing "God Bless America." But for me, the real fireworks took place over the preceding two hours.

To catch Kristin Chenoweth in a city near you, click here for tour dates.

Set List:

Act One
"Que Sera, Sera (What Will Be, Will Be)" (from The Man Who Knew Too Much)
"Moon River" (from Breakfast At Tiffany's)
"Over The Rainbow" (from The Wizard Of Oz)
"The Man That Got Away" (from A Star Is Born)
"9 To 5" (from 9 To 5)
"Feed The Birds" (from Mary Poppins)
"When She Loved Me" (from Toy Story 2)
"Moonshine Lullaby" (from Annie Get Your Gun)
"Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" (from "Phantom Of The Opera")
"I Could Have Danced All Night" (from "My Fair Lady") 

Act Two
Overture
"I'm Tired" (from Blazing Saddles)
"My Lord And Master" (from "The King & I")
"Dance: 10; Looks: 3" (from "A Chorus Line")
"Avenue Q" (skit)
"Popular" (from "Wicked")
"For Good" (from "Wicked")
"What Would Dolly Do?"
"Hard Times Come Again No More" (traditional)
"God Bless America" (traditional)
"Smile" (from Modern Times)

(Jerry J. Sharell is Director, Communications at The Recording Academy. Throughout his vast career, Sharell has represented a diverse list of celebrities and corporations, including Barry Manilow, Kimberley Locke, Leeza Gibbons, BCBG Max Azria, and Hard Candy.)

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