Kristin Chenoweth to Jorgensen: Musicals Become Her

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“People are going crazy over it,” Kristin Chenoweth told me over the phone from a break in the filming of an episode of the CBS comedy Mom.

The Broadway and television star was talking about reaction to the news of a new musical based on the 1992 cult film classic Death Becomes Her, which starred Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn. “I think we’re going to be doing it right,” says the actress, who will be playing the Streep role. Chenoweth was only too happy to say the role’s iconic line: “Now a warning?”

After starring in musicals such as You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (for which she earned a Tony Award) and Wicked (Tony nomination), can she tell a future hit or not?

“The answer is no,” she says, “but what I’ve learned is I’ve got to do what pleases me and what is going to make me better — and have fun, too. Those are the qualities I think about now when deciding on doing stuff. Yeah, I want it to be a big hit and obviously if I think something’s going to be a stinker I’m not going to do it, but to me this sounds like it’s just right.”

Having starred in On the 20th Century, Promises, Promises, The Apple Tree and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever on Broadway, are there others — hmmm, perhaps Jerry Herman musicals — she’d like to do?

“If I don’t get to come down those red steps as Dolly Levi [Hello, Dolly!] one day in my life I’m going to be mad. Dolly and Mame are two parts I feel that are definitely in my future — but it might be a while.”

That’s because she’s busy developing new work for herself — a television series, The Real Fairy Godmother, for ABC.