Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Marilyn and Alan Bergman and Marvin Hamlisch's "The Way We Were" showed her at less than her best. Compared to iconic versions by Barbra Streisand and Gladys Knight, the song seemed drained of its deepest emotions. Ms. Chenoweth understands her strengths as a performer, as much a personality as simply a singer, and there was a great deal of stage patter, perhaps almost half of the 80-minute running time. This connects her to her audience in ways that the music alone doesn't always. The Prince Harry/Meghan Markle news became an intro for "Popular," Chenoweth's big number from Wicked, which was followed by a duet with a local musical theater student named Pippa on "For Good," also from Wicked.
Other highlights include "Fathers and Daughters," Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and "Reasons to Hope." Midway through the program, Ms. Chenoweth stepped aside and her two assisting singers offered Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman."
Kristin Chenoweth is at her best as an actress, and at her absolute best as an actress in a musical. Her quirky personality makes her not right for many iconic roles, but when she fits a role (Lily Garland in On the Twentieth Century, the three females in The Apple Tree, and of course Glinda in Wicked), she is a talent to be reckoned with.
Those of us in the audience at at The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall got to see her unique talents and a good time was had by the almost capacity audience.
Kristin Chenoweth performed on January 30, 2020, at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. For information, please call 800-826-9303 or visit www.VanWezel.org.