Kristin Chenoweth chips in on theatre applause debate

By Neil Smith
Arts reporter, BBC News

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionChenoweth, seen here at a charity event in January, is one of Broadway's biggest stars

Theatre audiences should feel free to express appreciation for a performer however they see fit, according to a leading star of the Broadway stage.

"If someone wants to applaud somebody, let them," said Kristin Chenoweth.

Her comments follow reports Martin Freeman's performance as Richard III has been greeted by cheers and applause that some have deemed inappropriate.

"I get why they get their panties in a bunch but I just want people to go and experience the show," Chenoweth added.

"A good actor is a good actor, and if people want to reward him or her they should."

Speaking ahead of a solo concert performance at London's Royal Albert Hall, the original star of musical smash Wicked admitted audiences "do give it away pretty easily now".

"I want to earn standing ovations and entrance applause," said the 45-year-old, known to TV viewers for her roles in Glee, The West Wing and Pushing Daisies.

"The more important question is, how do you feel when they leave? Did you feel moved, did you feel changed, did you enjoy it? That's the thing I'd want to know."

The Oklahoma native will return to Broadway next year to star in On the Twentieth Century, a musical by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Cy Coleman last staged in New York in 1978.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe TV and stage actress is best known for playing Glinda in Wicked opposite Idina Menzel (l)

Chenoweth's appearance in London on Saturday will be welcomed by British fans who have been denied the opportunity to see her on two previous occasions.

A 2013 tour was called off at short notice, while a visit planned for the previous year was cancelled after she sustained an injury while making a guest appearance on The Good Wife.

"It was a brain injury which was tricky," she told the BBC News website of the 2012 accident, which saw her struck by a piece of lighting equipment while filming in New York.

"I had a neck problem and a nose, teeth and rib issue as well, so it took me a while to recover. I'm still recovering, but I'm here so I'm good."

Chenoweth's solo concert will see the diminutive Emmy and Tony winner perform a range of songs drawn from across her career.

They include numbers from Wicked, the Wizard of Oz-inspired musical for which she was Tony-nominated in 2004, and What Would Dolly Do, a self-penned tribute to country singer Dolly Parton.

"I want people to walk away with a better knowledge of who I am and what I do," said the actress, whose last visit to the capital, in May 2011, saw her perform at the Queen's official state dinner for President Obama.

"We must continue to challenge ourselves - it's the only way to grow. All the roles I choose are very diverse because I want to get better."

An Audience with Kristin Chenoweth is at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 12 July.

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