Life of the Party Podcast: The Kristin Chenoweth interview

The award-winning performer talks being a nice person in show business, shares her thoughts on Doris Day and tells us why 'Game of Thrones' helps her fall asleep.
Award-winning performer Kristin Chenoweth stops by Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Friday. [Krista Schlueter]
Award-winning performer Kristin Chenoweth stops by Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Friday. [Krista Schlueter]
Published May 16
Updated May 16

Pull up Kristin Chenoweth’s YouTube channel to get your party started.

She’ll show you to make break-and-bake cookies and dance like Jennifer Lopez in front of your oven’s fan. She’ll teach you to warm up your vocals in a hot tub. She’ll take you inside her closet, “a mini Walmart.”

The diminutive performer with the major voice has been livening up the room for decades. And for these reasons, Chenoweth understands us.

“I had to call in to a podcast called Life of the Party,” she said.

Indeed, Chenoweth joined our Times pop culture podcast for a chat this week. The Emmy and Tony-winning performer, 50, originated the role of Glinda in Broadway’s Wicked and has TV credits including Pushing Daisies, The West Wing and Glee. She’s at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Friday for An Intimate Evening With Kristin Chenoweth, her show of standards, hits and showtunes.

Below is an interview excerpt, edited for length and clarity. But there’s more to hear, from Chenoweth’s Tony Awards predictions to the lowdown on her Hallmark Christmas movie to why she watches Game of Thrones to fall asleep.

Get the whole conversation for free at tampabay.com/podcasts. Or search for Life of the Party on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

I want to let you know I’m a fellow tiny person. I’m 5 feet tall.

Oh, yay. We’re the same!

I know you love life hacks. Have you discovered the kids shoe department?

Hello, girl. Talk about arriving late to the party. You’ve arrived late to the party. How about coats? How about Gap Kids coats?

You have one of the best reputations in show business. This must be a hard time to be famous. There’s a lot of scrutiny. How do you learn to stay true to yourself and also be liked?

I think that I have parents that were always, “Be kind, be kind, but always say your truth.” And (my mother) would say nobody could get really mad at you if you’re saying your truth. And I thought about that over the years and I kind of think she’s right. Not everyone has to agree, for sure, but they kind of can’t get mad at you if you say, “I know maybe it’s not the popular opinion, but this is what I believe.” And, you know, don’t judge me, because I’m not judging you for how you believe. And lead with kindness. It always gets you so far in life. Not to say I don’t have my meltdowns. I mean, I am human. I do have my moments .

You are here Friday on your tour. I would love to know what this evening is like.

It always changes. I was there a year, or a year and a half ago. It’ll be completely different. There’s so many songs to sing in this life and I feel like I’m running out of time. I’ll start with probably Doris Day and Henry Mancini. And I’m always going to put some Wicked in there because people want that from me. And I’m going to give it to them. I don’t want people to leave mad. Glenn Frey. Dolly (Parton). It’s all over the map but it’s so fun for me as an artist because I get to do all those different styles. And also more importantly, sing my truth. All those songs I sing, I sing for a reason known to myself. And some of the reasons I will share with the audience and some I don’t need to. It’s really kind of a blessing to get to do different things with your voice because it leads you down all these different journeys and different paths, vocally, and that’s what’s so fun about it for me.

You mention Doris Day. We just heard the sad news that she just died.

I’m still kind of wrapping my mind around it. I know she lived a long life and she had a beautiful life, but, you know, it’s still so hard and sad to imagine one of our icons has transitioned on. And I know her, and I know she wouldn’t want us to be sad. She’d want us to celebrate, so that’s what we’ll do.

I want to put in a bid for you one day to sing a cover of Shallow. It would be epic.

I actually am working on it. I love it so much. I love Shallow so much. I love the words. I think (Lady Gaga) did an amazing job with the song and, yeah, that’s coming.

 

IF YOU GO

An Intimate Evening With Kristin Chenoweth

$45 and up. 8 p.m. Friday. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

 

LIFE OF THE PARTY

Life of the Party is the podcast that teaches you just enough to get by. Get party tips, ice breakers and cultural conversation from Stephanie Hayes, Brittany Volk, celebrities, Times writers and more. tampabay.com/podcasts.

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