Actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth in a glittering red dress was met with a wave of applause Saturday night as she waltzed onto the IU Auditorium stage.
She performed her “For The Girls” concert, which she exclusively performed eight times in November 2019 at the Nederlander Theatre in New York City. The concert is based on Chenoweth’s 2019 album by the same name, which is a tribute to female artists such as Barbra Streisand, Lesley Gore and Dolly Parton.
IU Auditorium managing director Maria Talbert said Chenoweth arrived in Bloomington earlier this week to teach a masterclass with students in the IU Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.
Chenoweth spoke very highly of the students she worked with during Friday’s masterclass, giving them advice throughout the concert and calling them her “kids.”
“I need to tell you I was blown away,” Chenoweth said to the audience. “So you’ll forgive me if I talk to them.”
She performed songs off her album such as “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore and “Desperado” by the Eagles, which she said she loved even more when she was young and heard a woman sing it on the radio.
She decided to sing “I Get Along Without You Very Well” to pay homage to lyricist and musician Hoagy Carmichael after she saw the artist’s statue outside the auditorium. She also entertained the audience with stories of her dinner at Potbelly Sandwich Shop and her Bloomington adventures in Target and CVS.
One of the biggest rounds of applause was for “Popular,” Chenoweth’s iconic song from her role as Glinda the Good Witch in the original Broadway musical “Wicked.” The audience also showed its appreciation for “Till There Was You” from the musical “The Music Man,” which Chenoweth performed for guitarist Josh Bryant.
“He doesn’t know this is going to happen,” Chenoweth said. “There’s a song that I wanted to sing to Josh tonight.”
Chenoweth said Bryant proposed to her Wednesday in New York, prompting her tosing the song to celebrate their engagement.
“When the guitarist was her fiance — plot twist,” freshman Hannah Hunt said. “That was wild.”
Hunt and her suitemate freshman Emily Koechel came to the show together. Koechel said she loves Chenoweth and her music.
“That was the best show I’ve ever been to,” she said. “I’m so glad she came, and I’m like, ‘I’m not going to sleep for the next week.’”
Hunt said she heard little of Chenoweth’s music before Saturday’s performance, but she was amazed by the concert.
“Her vocal range is really phenomenal,” Hunt said. “I am a converted fan.”
Chenoweth ended the concert with a performance of “Reasons for Hope,” a song written by musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and singer and actress Crystal Monee Hall. After taking a bow, she curtsied, made a heart with her hands and exited stage right.
But as the standing ovation went on for over a minute, Chenoweth returned to the stage.
“You all filled my soul tonight,” Chenoweth said.
Chenoweth’s voice carried across the auditorium without a microphone as she performed a final song: “Smile,” originally performed by Nat King Cole.
She sang, “You’ll find life is still worthwhile if you just...” As Chenoweth gestured, audience members finished in response.