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On broadway  by Robert Simonson


It seems inevitable that Kristin Chenoweth’s largeness of talent will always be contrasted with her smallness of size. I hope she doesn’t take such comparisons too hard. I doubt anyone means to slight her by pointing out her unprepossessing dimensions. It’s only that audiences and critics alike can’t help but be perpetually nonplussed by the amount at entertainment they’re getting out of this small package. 

To date, Chenoweth has been showcased almost solely in the buoyant form of musical comedy and, in look and energy, she is perfectly suited to the genre. Her vibrant facial features act as sentinel to the intensity that lies within, beginning with her shining blonde hair, seemingly illuminated by fires that start in her feet and billow up. Perhaps reflecting those same fires, her blue eyes twinkle, even when offstage. And then there’s that mouth, a streak of red that nearly runs off her face. Few kissers in today’s theatre are better at communicating a frown, a smile, or belting out a brassy, highly trained note. (Chenoweth was schooled as an opera singer.)

Though she was officially discovered in last season’s revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the same comic spitfire qualities found in her Tony-winning Sally Brown were amply on display in Precious McGuire, the character she played the year before in Kander and Ebb’s short-lived Steel Pier, her Broadway debut. Before that, she appeared in Babes in Arms, Strike Up the Band and Dames at Sea, shows whose titles bespeak the sort of electricity that Chenoweth can conjure up. Now, with the current Epic Proportions, she gets a chance to shine in comedy. No doubt, wordplay-loving critics, when writing up her performance, will pair references to her compactness with the play's expansive title. Let’s just hope they realize that—when applied to Chenoweth’s talent—the title isn’t all that ironic.

[[caption]] Left: Chenoweth with Alan Tudyk (far left) and Jeremy Davidson in Epic Proportions and (inset) as Sally in her Tony-winning role in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

[[credit]] PHOTOS: CAROL ROSEGG [[/credit]]

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