Kristin Chenoweth was born "Kristi Dawn Chenoweth" (she added an "n" in her first name later because she thought that "Kristin" was a more sophisticated name than "Kristi") in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on July 24, 1968. Adopted at birth, Kristin grew up with the daughter of Junie and Jerry Chenoweth and the sister of Marc Chenoweth. Her first big passion was ballet, and for many years it was her dream to become a professional ballet dancer. However, she was always small in stature and she had to accept that she would never be physically built to be a Prima Ballerina. Singing was a natural talent and she was recognized as a vocal prodigy early on in life. Her faith was a big part of her life as she was growing up, so it was fitting that it was at church, where her gift was discovered. One day, during a song Kristin noticed she was able to sing as loud as all the other congregation combined. This wasn't just enthusiasm for a hymn, this was talent. By the age of 12, Kristin was invited to sing a solo in front of the Southern Baptist Convention. This experience of performing in front of a big audience thrilled and excited her and her passion for music was cemented. Throughout her childhood, Kristin was known for her remarkable voice by the other children. After she graduated high-school, she attended Okalahoma City University, where she joined the Gamma Phi Beta (Beta Omicron) Sorority. She participated in the pageant circuit to win scholarship money for grad-school and although she never made it to the Miss America pageant, she won the title of "Miss OCU", and went on to win first runner-up in the Miss Oklahoma pageant. She then proceeded to win "Miss State Capitol" and became second runner-up in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant. She received a Bachelor in Musical Theater in 1990, and subsequently changed her major to Opera Performance and graduated from OCU with a Masters degree in 1993. During the Miss Pennsylvania pageant, she received the opportunity to audition for the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and was accepted on a full scholarship. Before the start of the program she attended an audition of an off-Broadway musical (Animal Crackers) in New York and got the part. In order to pursue her dream to be on Broadway, she turned down the AVA scholarship and moved to New York City.
Her first show, Animal Crackers, opened at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse in the fall of 1993. Just 4 short years later Kristin made her Broadway debut in a play, Moliere's Scapin with Bill Irwin. The following year, she landed her first part in a Broadway musical, the new Kander & Ebb show Steel Pier as Precious McGuire. Although the musical wasn’t a huge success, Kristin won a Theatre Work Award and was able to follow it up with roles in Strike up the Band, and William Finn’s A New Brain, and in 1999, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The role of Sally Brown, Charlie Brown’s stubborn little sister would change her life. She received rave reviews, including one from the New York Times critic Ben Brentley, and went on to win the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. The role also earned her a Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award. Her wonderful portrayal of Sally skyrocketed her career. The little Oklahoma girl with a love for music and a voice of gold had made it. That same year Kristin landed a major role in the miniseries Paramour and not long after that she starred as the scheming Lily St. Regis opposite Academy Award winner Kathy Bates in the ABC remake of Annie. Back on Broadway, she subsequently starred in Epic Proportions and NY City Center Encores! production of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.
Demand for Kristin grew. In 2001, Kristin started production on a new NBC sitcom named Kristin, loosely based on the first few years of her life in New York. She played Kristin Yancey, an Oklahoma girl who leaves the small town life behind and goes into the Big Apple in search of her big break as a musical performer. To make ends meet, she gets a job as a receptionist. While working there she has to deal with her colorful and quirky co-workers, as well as her charming playboy boss. The show lasted only a couple episodes, before it was prematurely cancelled. In that same year, she released her debut solo album, Let Yourself Go, which features a range of Broadway showtunes from the 1930's and 40's. After the release of the CD, she started a concert career, performing one-woman shows in small venues and with renowned orchestras across the country. In addition, Kristin made a couple of appearance as Ms. Noodle on the beloved Emmy-winning children’s show, Sesame Street. Kristin also starred in another ABC musical remake. This time it was The Music Man, where she played Marian Paroo opposite Matthew Broderick.
On October 30, 2003 Kristin returned to Broadway as Glinda, the Good Witch, in the brand new musical Wicked, written by Academy Award winning composer Stephen Schwartz and based on Gregory Maguire‘s novel of the same name. The musical tells the backstory of the two witches of Oz (from The Wizard of Oz) before Dorothy dropped in. In spite of mixed reviews, the musical instantaneously, soared to a level of success Broadway had rarely seen. The musical worked its magic and brought in hundreds of people every night to sold out performances. The Original Cast recording rose up the music charts like wildfire and even earned a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. Kristin, alongside her co-star Idina Menzel, was featured everywhere. Kristin gained her second Tony nomination for the role. Kristin left the show to the heartbreak of fans on July 18, 2004 and it was undoubtedly Kristin’s most successful role to date.
After she left the show, she performed in a concert at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York and appeared in a concertized version of Leonard Bernstein's Candide with the New York Philharmonic and such stage icons as Patti LuPone. The performance was aired on PBS Great Performances as released on DVD. She also got cast in a recurring role as the media consultant and press secretary Annabeth Schott on the beloved NBC political drama The West Wing. As the shrewd and political savvy Annabeth, Kristin was able to display another, more dramatic side, of her versatile acting abilities. in the Spring of 2005 Kristin's second album was released. As I Am. This album was a departure from her last album, showcasing her more spiritual side with a repertoire of Christian songs. In the following year, Kristin decided to concentrate on her movie career. In 2006, Kristin filmed five star-studded movies - RV, Pink Panther, Running with Scissors, Stranger Than Fiction and Deck the Halls. But of course she didn't stay away from New York very long. In the same year she starred in another City Center Encores! production, a revival of The Apple Tree. The short run was so successful, it was transferred to Broadway for a full run that opened at Studio 54 in December 2007. In the show, Kristin plays 4 roles and although she was snubbed by the Tony's, she received the best reviews of her career and it remains her favorite, most challenging and rewarding production to this day. The limited run closed in the spring of 2007.
On one of her nights off in January of 2007, Kristin made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera where she performed to a sold-out house. Later that year, Kristin joined the cast of a new show by Bryan Fuller, Pushing Daisies. The comedic drama was a crime/mystery show that is based on the assumption that the lead character Ned, the pie-maker has the ability to bring the dead back to life with a simple touch. If he touches them again, they go back to being dead. But he doesn't touch them within 60 seconds someone else has to die. Ned and his partner Emerson use this to solve murder chases. Kristin played Olive Snook, a waitress at Ned's café, whose undying love for the pie-maker is not returned. The whimsical show was beloved by critics and fans alike, but after the writer's strike of 2008 ratings didn't pick up and show was cancelled after only two seasons. Nevertheless, in 2009 Kristin won her very first Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her the role. During the run of the show, Kristin also released her third solo record, the Christmas album A lovely way to spend Christmas.
In 2009, she returned to New York to star in yet another City Center Encores! production, Music in the Air, the off-Broadway play Love, Loss and What I Wore and made her long-awaited Broadway return in the spring of 2010 in the revival of the Burt Bacharach musical Promises, Promises alongside Sean Hayes. Although the show is comedic, her character Fran was more dramatic than what Broadway has seen her do on stage before. Critics had mixed feelings, but audiences loved it and Kristin extended her commitment to the show until its closing in January of 2011. She also guest-starred on the new Fox Comedy Glee, where she quickly became an audience favorite and returned several times on what turned out to be hit show. Later that year, she released her fourth album, Some Lessons Learned, showcasing her incredible vocal and musical range by tapping into yet another genre. In the country-pop record, she explores her musical roots as a girl from the heartland and for the first time also appears as a songwriter on two of the tracks. She also starred in another short-lived TV series, the ABC comedy GCB inspired by a novel called 'Good Christian Bitches'. The series centers around a group of high-society Texas women, comedically depicting hypocrisy and naivety, but also showing a heartfelt portrayal of love, friendship and the sense of community. However, the title and plot stirred a lot of controversy, eventually causing advertisers to retreat and the show was cancelled after only 10 episodes. In the summer of 2012, Kristin went on her first national tour with performing to sold-out crowds and rave reviews everywhere.
Shortly after the end of the tour, however, she all held our breaths for a few weeks. While shooting what had been supposed to be a multi-episode arch on the CBS show The Good Wife, Kristin had a dramatic accident on set. She was hit by a lighting fixture that crashed down from 20 feet in the air and was slammed her into a curb. She sustained severe injuries, including a scull fracture, brain damage and several broken bones. But after two months, she was ready to return to work, and although she is still recovering from the accident, she luckily didn't sustain any significant permanent injures and is doing well. As soon as she was back on her feet, continued to perform in concert across the country. Most notably, she was part of 2013 American Songbook Series and her concert, focusing on Broadway show tunes, was broadcast on PBS. She went on tour in Australia, and in the summer and she made her solo debut at her Hollywood Bowl, where she performed a variety of songs from movie-musicals.
In the meantime, Kristin also shot a few new movies. She voiced the pink, poisonous frog Gabi in in Rio 2, will star the thriller The Boy Next Door alongside Jennifer Lopez and the Disney movie-musical Descendants, where she will put her own stamp on the classic Disney villain Maleficent. In the summer she returned to Carnegie Hall and made her Royal Albert Hall debut in London, where she once again performed to ecstatic audiences. In August, she sang two concerts in her home-town Broken Arrow that were recorded for a live album and DVD. Coming Home will be released in November 2014 and will be aired as a special on PBS. Next year, Kristin will make her long-awaited return to the Great White Way. Beginning in February, she will star in the revival of the musical comedyOn the 20th Century. The part of Lily Garland was originated by her idol Madeline Kahn, and we can't wait to see her put her stamp on this challenging character.
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