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Kristin Chenoweth casts a spell on audience
Kristin Chenoweth. Image from Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Kristin Chenoweth had no idea what to expect on her first trip to Australia, but it's clear she wants to return. "I love you, I want to move here" she told a full house audience at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in Adelaide on opening weekend.
Chenoweth definitely has a big following in Australia. Judging by the crowd response the minute the 4' 11" pint sized star set foot on the stage, she is in a league of her own. For two decades she has carved out a career in theatre, television, live performances and film.
Best known for originating the role of Glinda, the Good Witch in WICKED on Broadway, she has notched up around 40 television and movie credits as well as winning an Emmy and Tony Award. Her most notable performances have been on Glee, Will and Grace, and The West Wing.
From the minute she walked on stage at the Festival Theatre in Adelaide, the audience erupted with shrieks of excitement, her presence, humour, and charisma is one of a kind, you can't help but fall in love with her warmth, honesty, and talent.
She engaged the audience taking us on a journey of her life - from where she was raised in Oklahoma as an adopted child, her move to New York where she established herself as a musical theatre icon, her faith, to her love of shoes and animals.
The show included a cast of three singers and dancers, backed by the Adelaide Art Orchestra, and conducted by her music director Mary-Mitchell Campbell whom she met at one of Paul Newman's benefits. She clearly is the backbone of this slick production and an integral part of Chenoweth's life, both sharing with the audience the charities they've set up to help change the lives of people and animals.
The video backdrop used during the show showcased highlights from her career, warming up the audience at the start of her show. She also featured her icon Dolly Parton, as well as sharing a personal video she put together for her dad, whom she couldn't speak to on Fathers Day as she had lost her voice. She poked fun at Avenue Q characters (who were played by her cast) winning a Tony Award over WICKED, and bought the house down with the the infamous tune Popular in what she called 'around the world with Glinda' singing it in different languages. She confessed she does go online to compare the other Glindas in Wicked. Her humour and wit - infectious. If you weren't in love with her before the show, it's guaranteed you were after.
She also invited an audience member to join her for the WICKED tune For Good. After picking out three and not knowing who to choose, an audience member yelled out suggesting she call up all three. And that she did, raising a thunderous audience applause. All three ladies sang Elphaba's part flawlessly. She was moved to tears and inspired at how much the musical had touched people's lives.
The stunning Kate Ceberano joined Chenoweth on stage - image courtesy Ralph Carr Management
To the audience's suprise Chenoweth invited Cabaret Festival Artistic Director, Kate Ceberano to sing I Don't Know How To Love Him. Ceberano with passionate and charismatic delivery didn't disappoint. She too was moved to tears that Chenoweth had forgone a song in her show to give it to her to perform..
Chenoweth has a gifted vocal range and her voice simply moves you - every song had the audience mesmerised. She also expressed how important it was that life is so short, everybody in some way needs to leave their mark on the world.
Two standing ovations and hundreds of fans lining up to get programs signed, it didn't stop there. Hundreds gathered outside stage door and when she came out the strong crowd sang to her. I'm sure she was unaware of how much she's adored and loved in Australia.
This is one of the most magical and dynamic performances I have seen from a musical theatre performer. If you have the chance to see her do yourself a favour and go, you'll thank me.
She's in Melbourne on the 12th of June, Brisbane the 14th of June, and the Sydney Opera House on 17th June 2013.
Kristin Chenoweth (left) as Glinda the Good Witch alongside Idina Menzel as Elphaba