Although born and raised in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, renowned actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth feels at home in Arizona.
She enthusiastically shares that she’s a “big Cardinals fan;” so much so that she sang the national anthem before the Veterans Day game. But her activities the night before were really meaningful.
“I did a free concert at Luke Air Force Base for the families and our military guys,” Chenoweth says. “That was a really special moment for me. I met some really cool people. It was fun.”
The Tony Award winner who starred in Glee is passionate about military-related topics. She’s appalled at the lack of support veterans and soldiers receive.
“Support is the biggest missing link for us as a country,” she says angrily. “They go and do all of this for us, then they come home and say, ‘Now what? How do I integrate?’
“The woman who was in charge of me that day was telling me about all the work they were doing. They have to help, not only the military with PTSD, but how to integrate military men and women once they’re done with service.”
Chenoweth will return to the Valley twice in March. At Celebrity Fight Night on March 10 she will perform with the likes of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler to support the Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders Program and Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, and other local charities. Her Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts show on March 17 is with her longtime friend, Seth Rudetsky, a SiriusXM host and fellow entertainer.
“Normally, I bring my music director and we do a 90-minute show with just me and my piano, or me and my band,” Chenoweth says.
“On this particular night, I’ll be with an old, old friend. We came up together in New York. He asked me to do the show with him. We’re going to talk about auditions at 22 and we’ll sing.
“I’m going to get to share it with Seth and talk about what has moved me, the artists I like, and maybe sing songs I’m considering for my next record. It’s more of an intimate evening. I’m excited about it. I’m just so proud of him. It’s going to be a special night.”
She was introduced to Celebrity Fight Night through Andrea Bocelli, with whom she sang “The Prayer” at the event’s 2017 fundraiser in Italy. Meeting Bocelli and the folks behind Fight Night was meaningful.
“I met all the people who run it and they said, ‘You really need to come to our Celebrity Fight Night in Phoenix,’” she recalls. “I decided I would carve out time to come.
“As I age, I keep thinking about how I want to be remembered. I have my own theater in Broken Arrow, but I had nothing like that growing up. This year we held our third summer arts camp for kids from all over the country, who learn to sing, act and dance, and about show business. Watching the Fight Night group and how they put words into action, it’s inspiring. I don’t see how I don’t be a part of it.”
Chenoweth adds she feels a calling to share knowledge and resources.
“All these things we work so hard for in our 30s and 40s, we need not just reap the benefits or enjoy the fruits of our labor, but we need to put those fruits into something else. Life isn’t just about you. People have real, real problems like they need dinner and food, or there are people who are like me who grew up without a music program. I didn’t have children of my own, so who am I going to leave it to?”
Soon, she reflects again on her time in Arizona—and with whom she would like to spend time. Chenoweth is from the same hometown as a favorite Arizona Diamondbacks player—Archie Bradley.
“If he were a little older—and I don’t know what his story is, if he’s married with kids—I would be on the prowl,” she says with a giggle. “I’ve watched him on TV. I’m just proud of him. Nobody but us is from Broken Arrow.”
Celebrity Fight Night, JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, 5350 E. Marriott Drive, Phoenix, 602.956.1127, celebrityfightnight.org, 5 p.m. Saturday, March 10, $1,500-$5,000.
Kristin Chenoweth, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts’ Virginia G. Piper Theater, 7380 E. Second Street, Scottsdale, 480.499.8587, scottsdaleperformingarts.org, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 17, $59-$89.