Kristin Chenoweth w/ the Louisville Orchestra
Part of the Louisville Orchestra WOW Series!
Mary-Mitchell Campbell, conductor
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2016 Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.
There are a lot of superlatives that have been thrown around about the World Renowned Kristin Chenoweth: Stunning, personable, fun, entertaining. All are true and she demonstrated all of those traits when she came to Louisville for a second time and performed with our Louisville Orchestra under the baton of the remarkable Mary-Mitchell Campbell.
With a cute and quick intro Ms. Chenoweth came onto the Whitney Hall stage wearing a lovely gown with very sparkly high heels and addressed the full house about her arriving in Louisville sans luggage; and she delves into “Que Sera, Sera”, missing the first note, but later owning up to it.
While holding a Thornton’s cup, who she said can give 7-11 a run for their money, she talked about Singles Awareness Day (Valentine’s Day) and her love of Judy Garland as a lead-in to one of Arlen and Gershwin’s most popular songs, “The Man That Got Away”, from A Star is Born.
Throughout the evening Ms. Chenoweth shared with the full house tales about her life and growing up in the Bible Belt with her parents. “Fathers and Daughters” was a touching affirmation of the bond that she holds with her engineer father, all the while respecting the family’s religious beliefs in the titillating Boobs and Butt, all performed with a little bit of campiness for effect.
“Moon River”, with the full orchestra, was beautiful in its delivery and simplicity, especially the 2nd violins, as was “Danced All Night”.
Ms. Chenoweth took a moment to address the audience about her concerns about World events, past and present, becoming reflective and taking the hauntingly beautiful “Bring Him Home” to new levels of appreciation.
Coming back to the stage in a different, sparkly dress, she shared with the audience that the garment lost some of its shine due to a mishap at the dry cleaners. She went on to talk about a conversation that she’d had with Donald Trump where he had asked for her advice to become…wait for it…listen to the music…Popular. A cute segues of course, as this is one of her signature songs, and she kept it fresh and amusing.
Much to the audience’s delight, Ms. Chenoweth asked if anyone knew all of the words to her other big Wicked hit, “For Good”. As I suspected over half of the house raised their hand but due to the make-up of the room, focus was on the left side of the house. In the front row a young lady by the name of Shelby made her way to the stage. Shelby knew her stuff. With just a slight bit of nervousness, she was poised and confident throughout the whole of the duet and I can say that the audience and Ms. Chenoweth were reveling in the discovery. I know that Shelby receives training from some fantastic vocal coaches here in Louisville and it is wonderful to see her training being put to use beside an acclaimed performer such as Ms. Chenoweth. A happy moment.
It is quite evident that one of the great influences of Ms. Chenoweth’s life is the late, great Judy Garland. Performing “Over the Rainbow” with the full ensemble I noticed something similar from her earlier “The Man That Got Away”; when singing Judy Garland, she goes into a different vocal space: a deeper tone, much like what Ms. Garland had as an adult. She is not trying to sound like Judy, but is interpreting Ms. Garland’s sound for what is comfortable for her own vocal ability, which is rich and vast.
In another moment of reflection and tenderness Ms. Chenoweth and Maestro Campbell talked about tragedies that have happened as of late: the Paris attacks, San Bernardino and Sandy Hook. It was the event in Sandy Hook, in particular, that motivated her to sing Don Henley’s “Forgiveness”. An unusual arrangement, but it suits the tone of the evening and was played in perfect union by Ms. Campbell.
Ms. Chenoweth appearance in Louisville was as a replacement for the late Natalie Cole, and in her memory, and perhaps as a nod to the season as well, Ms. Chenoweth performed “My Funny Valentine”.
As a fan of Dolly Parton as well an interesting take on “Little Sparrow” was performed. I don’t believe this was a strong choice for Ms. Chenoweth. The piece seemed to lose focus where it began to sound like riffing going a little too far. But the use of the djembe and piano was great.
Towards the end of the program Ms. Chenoweth talked about her faith and brought on a set of young artists from the University of Louisville, the Kentucky Opera Young Artists Program, and a woman from Actors Theatre of Louisville, who formed a gospel choir to assist in her finale, “Upon This Rock” (where she reached her highest note) and “I Was Here”, with the full ensemble. I loved the chorus, but wished they had a little more volume about them as there were some great harmonies
Uproarious applause and several curtain calls brought Ms. Chenoweth out for her encore, another nod to Judy, and the perfect song to cap off the evening, “Smile”. Graceful. Unassuming. Delightful. Witty. Talented. Those superlatives just keep coming.
Kristin Chenoweth w/ the Louisville Orchestra
February 13, 2016
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville, and is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.