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Review: Chenoweth sends fans into new year with heart, soul, voice of an angel

Published January 2, 2013 9:07 am

Review • Darling of musical theater gives her all in Park City.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Park City • Kristin Chenoweth is many things to those who've followed her Tony- and Emmy-award winning career over the years.

What even her die-hard fans might not know is that she delivers a live show with sass and verve to spare. For her sold-out show New Year's Eve at Park City's Eccles Center, in a presentation by the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, that meant blowing mist from her asthma inhaler and opening sips from a "venti" coffee before delivering a show even a jaded theater critic is sure to remember.

Her stunning soprano voice aside, Chenoweth's strength has long been a charm so undeniable it's almost a force of nature.

If you know Chenoweth only through her myriad television roles, from "West Wing" to "Glee," it's something of a shock to see her live on stage.

That's because you find yourself amazed that anyone could sing in such bell-ringing, robust tones in the mere flesh, without the error-free wizardry of a recording studio.

If anything misfired at all, it was a sometimes pedestrian selection of songs that her fans already know. "Taylor the Latte Boy" will always go down a treat, but there seemed little reason, again apart from a show of charm, to make it the second number of Monday night's program.

As deftly as Chenoweth can switch from deadpan song to exuberant singing in songs of that sort, she excels in the art of the sincere ballad. As accompanied on a Steinway grand played by Mary Mitchell Campbell, Chenoweth held the audience rapt with a song in honor of her father ("Fathers and Daughters") and her "Glee" powerhouse number "Maybe This Time."

All throughout, Chenweth shared stories of her Oklahoma upbringing and ascendency into show-biz life that never once sounded shameless given her humble and humored delivery.

"My father thinks dating is as simple as getting on eHarmony to say, 'Tony- and Emmy-award-winning entertainer seeks same,' " she joked.

The crowd went wild for a rendition of "For Good" that included two willing but nervous audience members. Chenoweth fearlessly addressed the tragedy of the Newtown, Conn., shootings with a searing delivery of Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter," posing a threat to every dry eye in the house.

It was clear throughout the evening that Chenoweth was offering a treat too few of us have the opportunity to enjoy in our hurried, pre-packaged entertainment age: a soulful, solo review of songs straight from the heart of a stage legend. As a send-off into 2013, it was hard to imagine a better reminder of the eternal power of fine songs in the hand and heart of someone who sings like an angel.