For years, the multi-talented Kristin Chenoweth has set herself apart on stage, screen and in studio. The native Oklahoman can seemingly do anything, and in a way that's uniquely identifiable.
The Emmy-winning actress' roles in "West Wing" and "Pushing Daisies" were exceptionally memorable. The Tony-winning performer has mastered the grandest stages of the theater world (most notably with Wicked) with humor, soul and an undeniable voice. In recent years, she's become a best-selling author and chart-topping recording artist as well.
The list of artists alive today who can write a similar resume is tiny. Which is why her tour, An Evening with Kristin Chenoweth Celebrating the Art of Elegance, has sold out in many cities.
On the heels of her 2016 slow jazz collection, the Art of Elegance, Chenoweth comes to the AT&T Performing Art Center for a sold-out show on Wednesday. Here's more from her:
GuideLive: For your latest album, you offer your take on classic songs, which is something you've done before. How do songs become classics?
Kristin Chenoweth: I think it's not only the melodies that reach people's hearts, but also the lyrics. With people like [Hoagy] Carmichael or [George] Gershwin, it's all about the writing. Here we are in 2017 and these songs still ring true.
When approaching beloved songs, what do you do to set your version apart from the originals?
I love to pay homage to a standout version like Judy Garland, Linda Ronstadt or Frank Sinatra, but eventually I stop listening to them when I'm recording so I can make them my own. But listening to them over and over again burns them into your soul, and eventually the songs become yours.
Your home state of Oklahoma has a strong tradition of great songwriters and offbeat artists. Do you think the state gets overlooked when it comes to artistic output?
Goodness no. When you have songwriters like Jimmy Webb and Garth Brooks, there couldn't be two more different talents. But if anything, there might be something in our water.
With an Oscar win and Grammy win, you would join the exclusive "EGOT" club. What do you and others such as Whoopi Goldberg, Rita Moreno and Mike Nichols possess as entertainers that allow for the type of boundary crossing that requires?
I think each of those artists think about evolving and becoming better artists instead of being famous.
You've taken on a wide range of roles and different characters on television. What is it you are looking for in a television role, specifically?
I've been looking at roles that people see coming from me. From a drunk has-been in "Glee" to one of the smartest women working in the White House, to a woman who is a waitress in a pie shop (who can't get the guy, but is also a terrible waitress with a loving heart), to a good Christian bitch in "GCB." They're all very different. I don't like to repeat myself. There is an aspect in each role, though, that is a little bit of me.
Is there a creative outlet that you are drawn to the most?
I'm a creature of the live audience. I think I'm happiest when I'm on stage. The relationship between artist and audience member is most fun when we are listening to each other.
Have there been times when you've been discouraged from going down a new creative or commercial path? Have you ever been told something like "Just stick to singing," or "Just stick to acting"?
When I first started out, I had an agency interested in me; they said I was just a chorus girl and they would submit me for those kinds of roles. Being in the chorus is a huge honor, but being 4'11" and having an interesting speaking voice doesn't make one fit in very well. I try not to let anyone ever put me in a box. Well, my brother put me in a box, but I'm talking character-wise.
Are there any restaurants or hotels or notable, Dallas-specific items you have come to enjoy over your years of performing here?
I miss Mexican food in New York City and L.A., they don't really understand what true queso is, so that'll be the first thing on my list. I'm not going to lie, I'm going shopping in Highland Park, and I'm a big fan of a lot of hotels in Dallas. Since I grew up in Oklahoma, and I have family in Texas, it just feels right. I'll probably go to church while I'm there too.
Kristin Chenoweth performs at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. Details here.