There are few performers who could pack the London Palladium for a one-off concert. There are even fewer who could completely captivate the two thousand strong audience for an entire evening with just a piano as accompaniment and a collection of stories.
But Kristin Chenoweth is no ordinary performer and in a stripped back concert at the iconic Argyll Street venue she proved why she is seen as musical theatre royalty.
It’s difficult to describe just how charismatic Chenoweth is without sounding gushing. But the stage star – who is small in stature – somehow managed to fill the cavernous auditorium, reaching every corner and every person with her dazzling disposition, while maintaining a feeling of intimacy throughout.
From the very first entrance the audience erupted with adulation and after beginning with “Should I be Sweet” – which featured on her 2001 Let Yourself Go album – Kristin launched into her trademark self-deprecating and down to earth story telling.
There’s no doubt that Kristin Chenoweth is vocally one of the best in the business – her range is phenomenal and her ability to effortlessly switch from one musical style to another is remarkable – but it’s in the delivery where she really leads the field. When extracting every bit of emotion or humour from each lyric, she is able to completely connect with her audience. You could have heard a pin drop, such was the silent awe throughout the more meaningful numbers like “I Get Along Without You Very Well” and the glorious “Moon River”. Other act one highlights included an extremely emotional version of “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables, “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady – which showcased her extraordinary soprano voice – and the religious anthem “Upon this Rock” for which she was joined onstage by the Choir of the Arts Educational School.
After returning to the stage after the interval bedecked in a shimmering slip and matching thigh-high silver boots, Wicked fans were treated to the song for which Kristin Chenoweth is renowned; “Popular” (so perfectly performed it sounded as if we were listening to the original recording) before the songstress was joined onstage by another former Wicked star, Rachel Tucker for a stunning rendition of the duet “For Good”.
There were homages to many of her influences throughout the show too (a number of who were in attendance) including British musical theatre star Elaine Paige, lyricist Lesley Bricusse, composer Andrew Lippa and director of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – for which Chenoweth won a Tony award in 1999 – Michael Mayer.
Stand out numbers in act two included a gorgeous version of the country classic “You Were Always On My Mind” mashed up with Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” and the funny little ditty “Taylor the Latte Boy” along with another belter performed with the Choir of the Arts Educational School to close the show.
You can’t help but feel like you’ve been in the presence of greatness when you find yourself anywhere near Kristin Chenoweth; such is the positive energy which she emanates and her encore performance – without a microphone – of “Smile” left the audience in no doubt they had witnessed a once in a lifetime show. Is Kristin Chenoweth a goddess? I think so.
Photo by Danny Kaan