SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Broadway and television star Kristin Chenoweth said singing with the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square is something she can now check off her “bucket list.”
Chenoweth spoke to reporters in a press conference at the Relief Society building on Temple Square, along with choir conductor Mack Wilberg and choir president Ronald B. Jerrett.
“It’s the music that draws me in every time,” said the Wicked star of the choir’s music. “There were exactly three shows on TV I watched growing up…It was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas special; it was Miss America and it was the Tony Awards. That says everything you need to know about this girl right here,” she chuckled.
Chenoweth is an accomplished coloratura soprano with roots in Oklahoma. She is best known for her role as Glinda in the smash musical Wicked, as well as TV roles in Pushing Daisies, Glee, The West Wing and Disney’s Descendants. She also had a role in The Muppets.
Her concert with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square comes with some controversy, with gay rights activists urging her to “bow out” of the concert due to the Mormon Church’s stance on LGBTQ issues. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put big money into Proposition 8 campaigns in 2008, fighting against same-sex marriage.
Chenoweth told the Salt Lake Tribune she hopes to show “nothing but love” in her concert with the choir.
In the press conference Wednesday, Chenoweth donned a bedazzled crucifix around her neck, as well as a pin with the symbol for LGBT rights – a rainbow infinity symbol.
“We are making music and celebrating the birth of Christ,” said Chenoweth, who grew up in Oklahoma in a religious family. “What we can all agree on – and be alike – is in the music,” said Chenoweth.
The concert will feature famous holiday tunes, as well as some pop, country and Broadway elements, said Mack Wilberg, conductor of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
“I think we were just all completely overwhelmed and charmed by the incredible energy that she brings to the stage,” Wilberg said of Chenoweth. “I don’t know if we’ve ever had as versatile a performer as Kristin.”
Chenoweth said while she loves Utah’s recent snowfall, the high altitude and poor air quality in the Salt Lake Valley has been a challenge on her vocal cords.
“I can’t breathe,” she laughed. “I have struggled, I’m not gonna lie.” “Come on, get your breath,” she tells herself. Chenoweth said she has had to be kind to herself as she has struggled with the adjustment, but she said she has faith the concerts will go off without a hitch. The singer said adjusting to such a large venue like the Conference Center is also challenging, but she feels comforted knowing there are so many great professionals with her.
“I turned to Mack last night and said ‘We’re in this together, right,'” she laughed, adding she hopes with the massive audience that she will be able to remember all of her lyrics. “I ask that you guys pray for my memory,” she laughed. “Hashtag…pray for Kristin’s memory.”
Turning to Jerrett, Chenoweth said she is so honored to be singing with the Tabernacle Choir.
“I look back in your history, your DNA and I just think…I want to be a part of it,” said the smiling soprano.
The Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert will be held Dec. 13, 14 and 15 at the Conference Center. Tickets for the concert were free and were snatched up less than an hour after the Church made them available.