Posted by vp19 on 2015.06.07 at 09:36
Current mood: enthralled
As someone whose stage experience was minimal, to say the least, Carole Lombard and the Tony Awards — given for excellence on Broadway — really have little in common. However, this year marks an exception, thanks to a cinematic ride she once took on the…
“Twentieth Century,” itself an adaptation of a Broadway play about the rocky relationship of a stage impresario and a woman he shapes into his bombastic equal, marked a turning point in Carole’s career. In the 1970s, the story was reworked into a musical, “On the Twentieth Century,” with Madeline Kahn playing the Lily Garland role that had vaulted Lombard into stardom. That show was revived earlier this year, this time with Lily essayed by someone who counts Kahn as one of her idols and probably is a Lombard fan, too…
…Kristin Chenoweth, the diminutive dynamo from Broken Arrow, Okla.
Chenoweth — who’s co-hosting the Tonys tonight on CBS — has won rave reviews (among the best of her career, which is saying something) for her work in “On the Twentieth Century,” and while she’s won at the Tonys before, it’s never been for best actress in a musical. As Adam Feldman writes in Time Out New York (http://www.timeout.com/newyork/blog/give-kristin-chenoweth-the-tony-award-she-deserves), that’s simply wrong:
“To me, Chenoweth is not just the right choice; she is the obviously right choice. This is a relevant distinction, because a lot of people seem to be overlooking the obvious. … One of the most distinctive and distinguished Broadway leading ladies to emerge in the past 30 years, Chenoweth is a throwback to a classic breed of sui generis Broadway star: unique women with styles all their own, like Merman, Verdon, LuPone.”
Chenoweth is that rare Broadway performer whose fame transcends the Great White Way. To be sure, much of that comes from her extensive work in movies, recording and TV, as well as her 4-foot-11, sub-100-pound size (as shown above, it does make her portable), but Kristin has proven herself a petite powerhouse on stage; that’s what she’s primarily known for. As Feldman noted in his review of the show:
“She has never had a role that cast so bright and sustained a light on her multifaceted talents, and the resulting shine is dazzling. All the powers stuffed into her tiny frame — the huge voice that rises from kazoo to coloratura soprano, the brash look-at-me confidence, the Carol Channing–esque precision clowning — are harnessed to propel the show forward. She’s the little engine that could do anything.”
So you can understand why many people — including myself — are rooting for the jockey-sized Chenoweth to ride home a winner (and speaking of jockeys and winners, congratulations to American Pharoah for ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought).
To give you a sample of Kristin in “On the Twentieth Century,” here she is singing and dancing to its “Veronique.” (At the close of this clip, it notes the show will run through July 5; it has since been extended to July 19.)