Tony and Emmy Award-winning star Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked, Glee, Pushing Daisies) is in town this weekend to help the girls from CBC’s Over the Rainbow this Sunday night at 8 p.m., find their way to Oz, barring any unforeseen Kansas twisters.
But Chenoweth herself nearly got knocked out of action permanently on July 11, her third day of shooting as a new character on The Good Wife, when a steel lamp came loose from its rigging and fell about 10 metres, smashing into her face.
“It hit me in the face, flung me to the ground and knocked me out . . . We were outside on a windy day so I hit my head on a curb. I fractured my skull, had a concussion, hurt my ribs, broke my nose and damaged my neck.”
Her petite blond form looks like it couldn’t sustain that much violence and, indeed, she was unconscious for several minutes. When she came to, a doctor looked at her gravely and said, “If it had hit you a few inches higher, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Chenoweth’s eyes fill with tears as she recalls the moment. “I was in such pain and there was blood everywhere, I had double vision and I felt so totally destroyed I remember saying, ‘It’s OK if it’s my time, God.’ ”
Her religious beliefs are well known, so a statement like that isn’t strange coming from her. What does strike one as different is the fact that in the weeks following, she started to question the whole accident.
“I was grateful at first that I was still alive, but then it started. Why me? At first I just asked God quietly and I wasn’t getting any answers.
“Then one day, I turned to my mother and asked her. ‘Mom, why me?’ She said, ‘Why not you, honey? You’re human, you’re in a risky business. You’re no better or worse than any other human alive.’ It was a great lesson.”
And that was just one of many lessons she was to learn.
“I had just finished my first-ever solo concert tour (she sold out Massey Hall on June 12) and I came off such a high. I was going along 200 miles an hour, like you know I always do, then the accident happened and I went right down to zero.
“When you’re left alone with your thoughts, with nothing but the white noise playing in your head, you do a major re-evaluation of your life. At least I did. Where do I want to be? What do I want to do?”
The next stop will be back to Broadway, where she last appeared in the revival of Promises, Promises. She’s masterminding a revival of the cult 1979 musical On the Twentieth Century, which originally starred her idol, the late Madeleine Kahn.
“It’s funny and operatic and sexy and a show I felt I was born to do. After that, they’re writing a musical for me about the life of Tammy Faye Bakker, with songs that are out-of-the-ballpark fabulous.”
And there’s one other aspect of her life the 44-year-old Chenoweth has left unsettled.
“Romantic life has always been on the back burner. I always tease people saying I’m gonna be single forever. I don’t know if I want to go through this alone any more. I’ve been fulfilled with friends and work and now I want to share it with one person. But it has to be the right person.”
And her final advice to the girls from Over the Rainbow?
“It’s all inside you anyway, that’s where the magic is.”