It’s been more than a decade since Kristin Chenoweth last sang before a London audience, though she performed two years ago at a private dinner hosted by the Obamas in the presence of the Queen. The Tony- and Emmy-winning star’s absence from the U.K. has only heightened anticipation about her first-ever British concert tour, which starts March 11 at the London Coliseum before moving on to one-nighters in Manchester, Edinburgh, and Cardiff. The ever-busy songstress, 44, caught up with Broadway.com by phone from New York to talk Oscars, concerts versus stage shows and her initially reluctant embrace of Twitter.
A week ago you were in L.A. for the Oscars, and soon you’re off to London. Are you a good traveler?
That’s a very good question. Obviously I’ve had to get better at it over the past few years. I have an inner ear disorder that can cause vertigo when I fly too much, so I do pay a price a little bit. But I take care of myself when I’m traveling and do all the obvious things, like get extra sleep and drink crazy amounts of water and take vitamins and all of that. I’ve got to be fit for [this tour] because it is a challenge! I’m not just doing Broadway show tunes but also opera and country music and all the things I love to sing.
It's been more than a decade since you performed in London as part of the Divas at the Donmar series.
Crazy, isn’t it? I was supposed to do Candide [at English National Opera, on the same stage where she will perform on March 11], but then came the writers’ strike and all the stuff with Pushing Daisies, so I had to cancel. Tears were shed because I so wanted to do it there, but what’s great this time is that I get to travel to Manchester, Edinburgh, and Cardiff, which is exciting because I’ve never been outside London. Chenoweth is a Welsh name, so my parents are coming over and we’re making it into a vacation. Once you’re over there, you want to be there. You know what I mean?
Absolutely. Gosh, Oklahoma and Wales—that’s an unusual combination!
Yeah [laughs]. How did that happen?
So many Broadway performers turn up at various times in London. Do you think of it as a 51st state?
I have to say yes. You know you’ve “made it,” so to speak, if you go there. I don’t ever feel comfortable that I’ve made it, because I will never feel entirely happy with where I am, but I do think it’s quite an honor to have played in London. I’ve done the Donmar and have gotten to sing for the Queen, and now I get to sing for the fans.
Many of your U.K. fans stayed up into the small hours of the morning to watch you live at the Oscars. What was hosting the red carpet like?
At first, I was nervous and told the producers I didn’t feel right about it—that I’m not a host and wouldn’t be good at it. But they said, “We just want you to be yourself and think of it as a conversation between friends,” because I do know some of those people. So that’s the way I approached it, and I had fun because I wasn’t trying to be anybody that I’m not.
Did the experience made you rethink your own approach to red carpets?
Yes. I mean, I certainly value fashion and I value what people have to say, but as a person who’s done red carpets and now been on the other end, it is nerve-wracking because you don’t want to offend anybody or ask the wrong question. That’s why I purposefully asked to have Adele, because I love her. I said to them, “If you can give me anybody, give me Adele.” So you just learn and grow. And, actually, I had a good time.
Did you discuss with Seth MacFarlane what part he should do on Broadway?
We didn’t have a chance, because he was busy writing the song we were going to sing at the end. But he should definitely be in a Broadway show—I don’t care what it is—and I should be opposite him! If he did Broadway, he would have the world at his fingertips.
Speaking of Broadway, are you excited about the fact that Wicked turns 10 in October? Or do you feel as if that was then and this is now?
A little bit of both, I think, if I’m honest. For me, growing up, it was all about Les Miz and Phantom, and now it’s Wicked. To understand that is to be very honored by being part of a show that has a place in musical history.
Would you be interested in taking part in a Wicked reunion concert with the original cast?
Sure, anything like that! Wicked holds a dear place in my heart, and I can see wanting to do something like that someday, but they better hurry up before I get too old [laughs]!
What about more immediate Broadway plans? Your name has been swirling around multiple projects.
Well, we’re definitely set to go with On the Twentieth Century, and we should have an announcement about that soon; that one’s on the front burner. Rise [about Tammy Faye Bakker] is getting a little bit of a revision in the book department, so that one’s a few years away. And then there’s Soapdish [by GCB creator Robert Harling, adapted from the 1991 film] which we did a reading of. That’s actually fantastic, so I would love to be doing one or both of those.
As your career progresses, do you find yourself preferring concerts to shows, just because they pose less rigorous demands?
I go back and forth. Just the other day I found myself thinking, “My god, I can’t imagine having to do a matinee and an evening performance today.” Other days, I think to myself, “That is what you were born to do!” [Laughs.] Concertizing is very gratifying, but what’s been working for me is that I can go off and do a movie and then come back to live performance. That combination feels great.
Speaking of screen work, would you like to do a TV stint in Smash?
You know, I can appreciate Smash from afar, but I think I’d probably be better as an audience member for that show. It’s about my world—well, one of my worlds—so it's a little bit close to home. What I’m always looking for are parts that are different from who I am and away from a world I know, like the ones I’ve had on Pushing Daisies and Glee or even GCB. There are a lot of people who want to stretch themselves, and I’m one of them.
And now, via Twitter, you can take your fans with you. How do you feel about embracing that aspect of social media?
At first, I had a hard time with the whole idea of Twitter and thought it was ridiculous and was really reticent about joining. But the people who work for me said, “Kristin, you really should do it,” and then I found myself becoming obsessed [laughs]. I was, like, “I’m watching two crime shows,” and “Today, I’m going to get some fresh vegetables,” like anybody cares, and I’ve come to really enjoy it! It turns out I love talking with people about what they had for dinner. I don’t know what comes after Twitter, but we’ll see!