‘Hair­spray Live’ an­other chal­lenge for Chenoweth

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINMENT - By De­bra Birn­baum

Kristin Chenoweth, who’s been per­form­ing since child­hood, has made her mark on the stage, screen and tele­vi­sion, with mem­o­rable roles in “Wicked” and “The West Wing.”

Never one to sit still, she’s tak­ing on the role of Velma Von Tus­sle in NBC’s up­com­ing “Hair­spray Live” (Dec. 7) just as she’s wrapped a two-week run in New York City with her con­cert “My Love Let­ter to Broad­way.”

The fol­low­ing is an edited tran­script of the con­ver­sa­tion with Chenoweth.

Q: How do you jug­gle ev­ery­thing?

A: Girl, I’m tired. I’m go­ing to be hon­est: It’s my Achilles’ heel. The thing I have to work hard­est at is find­ing those times to take a break, to re­fuel, to recharge, to get alone time. As soon as “Hair­spray’s” done, I’m go­ing to take a month and chill out. I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to get bored Day 2.

Q: Why did you sign on for “Hair­spray Live”?

A: I love the part (of Velma Von Tus­sle, who was played by Deb­bie Harry in the 1988 movie). She’s got a great num­ber called “Miss Bal­ti­more Crabs.” It’s about liv­ing in the past, about her for­mer days as a beauty queen. I also think it’s in­ter­est­ing to watch a mom live vi­car­i­ously through her daugh­ter. That’s al­ways been a fas­ci­nat­ing re­la­tion­ship — an un­for­tu­nate trait that I’ve wit­nessed. My chal­lenge will be to make a very un­lik­able char­ac­ter fun and lik­able.

Q: You’re an ac­com­plished per­former, but how will you pre­pare for do­ing a mu­si­cal on live TV?

A: Oh, God, I’m a wreck. I’m so ner­vous. The deal is this is a one­time shot. When we’re on Broad­way, we get the next night to make it bet­ter, to fix the mis­take. But this will be mis­takes in front of mil­lions of peo­ple. My goal will be not to fall in a pit. Or have some­thing fall on me or blow my­self up. Of course I’m kid­ding. I want to to­tally be the char­ac­ter. I want to nail it.

Q: You’ve had such a great part­ner­ship with “Amer­i­can Gods” cre­ator Bryan Fuller. (The se­ries comes to Starz next year.)

A: We’ve never left each other’s side since “Push­ing Daisies.” Not just pro­fes­sion­ally, but as friends. We shouldn’t get along on pa­per. But he’s like my brother. We both love hor­ror films. We love weird stuff, like taxi­dermy. Lots of stuff that peo­ple wouldn’t know about us. What he thinks is funny, I think is funny. What he’s drawn to, I’m drawn to. He’s a com­plete Trekkie. I’m a sci-fi fa­natic. It makes sense that we found each other.

Q: What role is still on your bucket list?

A: The usual sus­pects, like Dolly, “Mame,” and “Gypsy.” But I think the role that’s next may not even be writ­ten yet. I have this weird feel­ing it’s be­ing writ­ten now.

RICH FURY/INVISION

Kristin Chenoweth will play Velma Von Tus­sle in NBC’s up­com­ing “Hair­spray Live.”

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