Kristin Chenoweth Comes to Vegas for a Wicked Good Time

Photo by Brian Bowen Smith

Photo by Brian Bowen Smith

Pint-sized Oklahoma-born singer Kristin Chenoweth is best known for her role as the good witch Glinda in the Broadway smash Wicked. But she’s more than a bubbly sorceress. The 45-year-old is an accomplished opera singer and a film and television star. Chenoweth’s varied appeal makes it clear why The Smith Center chose her for its first-ever New Year’s Eve performance. A 12-piece orchestra and supporting dancers and players will showcase the singer’s range in this rare Las Vegas appearance.

What will the New Year’s Eve show be like? 

One of the challenges that I have is that I do a lot with my voice. In concert, I like to give a little bit of everything, so there’ll be some opera, some musical theater, some country music and some songs from my albums. From touring and doing different shows, we’ve mixed things up. For example, we did a show at the Hollywood Bowl with songs from movies, and I sang “Que Sera Sera” and “Moon River,” so there will be those kinds of songs that people know me for. We’ve also chosen some songs that people will want to hear on New Year’s Eve.

Why did you choose The Smith Center as opposed to a venue on the Strip?

My director, Richard Alexander, was there not too long ago and shot a video of the stage. This was shortly after I had gotten the offer to play there, and I was just blown away. I’ve been told people love to sing at The Smith Center. I hear the acoustics are fantastic.

You haven’t done a full show in Vegas in 10 years. How often do you visit? 

I have come to Vegas for spa weekends with girlfriends, or just shopping and hanging out. I saw Barbra Streisand at Planet Hollywood. [This time] I plan on staying the night and maybe getting a massage the next day. Being so busy, you just have to take a break, even for just a day or two. A game of blackjack may be involved as well.

Any interest in a Las Vegas residency? 

I look at performers like Donny and Marie, whom I admire very much and whose show I try to see while I’m in town. I could see something like that happening for me. I would love to have an act someday, where someone goes on vacation and needs someone to come in for a week or two. I would be the perfect candidate. There are things that people are born to do, and I’m born to be onstage. I’m not supposed to be a homemaker or a designer; I didn’t get that gene. I’m not supposed to drive a car very fast. I can do this. So that would be lovely, if at some point I was asked to do something like that.

Which Las Vegas of yesteryear would you like to visit?

The Rat Pack! My first album was music from the ’30s and ’40s, and I have a love for Frank and Dean, and Tony Bennett. That was when the lyric was the star. I sang “The Best Is Yet to Come” by Cy Coleman for the Breeders’ Cup. I have that in the show as well, and I throw in some disco, too. Believe it or not, it is all interwoven in a story. I don’t just sing a song for no reason. I sing songs that mean something to me, and there’s always a story behind it that I try to share with the audience.

Kristen Chenoweth

7:30 p.m. Dec. 31, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, $49-$175, 749-2000,

This article originally appeared in Vegas/Rated magazine. View the issue or download the Vegas/Rated app.