NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kristin Chenoweth, star of the Broadway musical “On the Twentieth Century,” will juggle two roles during the Tony Awards as a co-host and a nervous nominee for theater’s biggest honors but what she wants most is for her show to win this year.
Chenoweth, 46, won a Tony in 1999 for her role in the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” but has never been in a Tony-winning show in her nearly 20-year career on Broadway.
“On the Twentieth Century,” a madcap 1930s comedy that takes place on a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York, has been nominated for five Tony awards.
They include a nod for best revival of a musical and best actress for Chenoweth as temperamental Hollywood star Lily Garland, opposite Peter Gallagher who plays her former love, the bankrupt producer Oscar Jaffee.
“I’ve always wanted to be in a show that wins a Tony,” Chenoweth said during an interview. “I’m going for the gold with this one.”
In the musical, Oscar tries to convince Lily to return to the stage, and him, to salvage his floundering career.
Chenoweth’s powerhouse voice belies her thin, petite frame as she belts out a range of songs in a role that one critic said was tailor-made for her talent and skills.
With her role as co-host and nominee announced only a week ago, Chenoweth is still adjusting to being cited and co-hosting with actor Alan Cumming. The show will be broadcast live by CBS from Radio City Music Hall in New York on June 7.
“Well, since the nominations just came out we’re kind of, spit-balling. We’re trying to figure out what we want to do,” she said. “The thing about the Tonys that I love is that it always celebrates the shows themselves.”
The role of Lily holds particular importance for the actress. Chenoweth’s idol, the late Madeline Kahn, originally played the role when the musical opened on Broadway in 1978. Kahn died in 1999.
“I hope Madeline Kahn is looking down and is smiling,” she said.
Harold Prince, the director of the original production, praised the revival, but Gallagher said he gets the most satisfaction from how fans react.
“The audience every night is the best response because people are on their feet, regardless of how they start, they are just smiling and they can’t believe how much fun they are having,” he said.
Editing by Mary Milliken and David Gregorio