“People think you don’t get nervous, but of course I did,” reveals Kristin Chenoweth about performing live in the NBC production of “Hairspray Live” this past November. In our recent webchat (watch above), she adds, “On Broadway we get eight times a week to get it right. On film or TV we can cut until we get it right. This was a one-shot deal and was like ‘Dear Lord, please don’t let me drop my baton, don’t let me fall. Let me play the part and be true to the piece without a catastrophe’.”
In this adaptation, Chenoweth played Velma Von Tussle, the scheming mother of Amber (Dove Cameron) and producer of “The Corny Collins Show,” a Baltimore teenage dance program in 1962. The role was played by Linda Hart in the original 2002 Broadway production and Michelle Pfeiffer in the 2007 movie. Of the character, Chenoweth says, “It’s not necessarily a likeable character. You kind of hate her. I wanted to look at the role and figure out the best way I could make her love-to-hate… There are a lot of moms out there who want their kids to be stars. Velma wants Amber to be a star at any cost, and if Amber can’t fill the slot then she’ll do it herself.”
Chenoweth won a Tony Award in 1999 for her featured performance in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” She has also starred in “Steel Pier,” “Wicked,” “The Apple Tree,” “Promises, Promises,” and “On the Twentieth Century.” She took home an Emmy Award in 2009 as Best Comedy Supporting Actress for “Pushing Daisies.”
Her next television project is “American Gods,” which is debuting April 30 on Starz. The fantasy drama stars Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Ian McShane, Cloris Leachman, Gillian Anderson, and Chenoweth as Easter. In our webchat, we discuss that series developed by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green and adapted from author Neil Gaiman. Chenoweth also dishes co-hosting the Tony Awards with Alan Cumming and her lasting memories of working with the late John Spencer on “The West Wing.”
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