Those present for Kristin Chenoweth’s sold out debut with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Friday night will no doubt always remember it as the night she sang with her idol, Sandi Patty, thereby fulfilling her longtime dream.
It just so happens that Patty is in Indy rehearsing for the ISO’s 2015 IPL Yuletide Celebration, for which she will serve as host, Dec. 4 through Dec. 30. Consequently, it was perfect timing for Chenoweth, a Broken Arrow Oklahoma native, to perform with Patty who is also from the Sooner state. Near the beginning of the concert, Chenoweth introduced Patty who was ensconced in a box seat adjacent to the Hilbert Circle Theatre stage. Later Patty joined her onstage where the two of them sang “For Good,” the duet from “Wicked,” sung by the character Elphaba and Glinda, the role which Chenoweth originated on Broadway. At the song’s conclusion, an emotional Chenoweth tightly hugged Patty, after which she had to compose herself before continuing her set.
It was just one of several highlights of Chenoweth’s concert which saw the petite Broadway, television, film, concert, and recording superstar perform her 90-minute show without intermission. Exhibiting a formidable voice with an extraordinary range, the effervescent, self-deprecating Chenoweth dazzled the audience with her versatility.
Her program, which showcased her ability to switch genres effortlessly, consisted of Broadway, American Songbook, gospel and country music. In between songs, Chemoweth conveyed a sassy personality as she quipped with the audience while sipping from a Colts mug which she said she purchased at the Circle Center Mall.
Songs performed by Chenoweth included a rendition of “The Man That Got Away,” which rivaled, in intensity, that of Judy Garland who made it famous. In a tribute to the victims of the recent Paris terrorist attacks, she sang a heartrending version of “Bring Him Home,” from” Les Misérables.” Providing a hilarious and offbeat approach to her signature song “Popular,” from “Wicked,” Chenoweth introduced it by telling the audience that Donald Trump had asked for her advice. After launching into the song she fashioned her blonde hair into a comb over a la the controversial presidential candidate. While singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” another song made famous by Judy Garland as Doroth in “The Wizared of Oz,” Chenoweth pulled out all the stops as she made the song of deep yearning, her very own.
The concert’s other major highlight was Chenoweth’s interpretation of “Upon This Rock,” made famous by Sandi Patty. Accompanied by a group of undergrad and graduate music students from Butler University, she turned in a performance so spectacular that she earned a standing ovation from the audience, led by none other than Patty who had, by then, had returned to her seat.
The evening’s most inspirational moment was at the close of the concert. It occurred prior to the performance of her own composition titled, “I Was Here,” with the Butler students. Referring to her own experience as a music student, Chenoweth encouraged the undergrad and grad students, to pursue their dreams and “do what you love.” Giving each their individual moment in the spotlight, she asked the young performers to introduce themselves and state majors before telling them that someday like her, they could be performing with a symphony orchestra, in front of their idol. Chenoweth who teaches master classes to students at a performing arts center named after her, which is located in her hometown, sressed the importance of music education to the audience.
For her encore, Chenoweth, accompanied by her superb pianist, Broadway music director and philanthropist Mary Mitchell-Campbell, sang “Smile,” with music composed by Charlie Chaplin. It was a simple yet moving conclusion to a rare evening that will long be remembered not only for the high caliber of the entertainment but also for Chenoweth’s uncommon talent, warmth and humanity.
For tickets and information about the remainder of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 2015-2016 season call (327) 639-4300 or visit indianapolissymphony.org.