Start with an empty stage — a microphone, a seated pianist, a seated guitarist. The crowd is quiet in the venue until a four-foot-eleven flash of glitter takes center stage. Award-winning artist Kristin Chenoweth performed a concert at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts that was the finale in a culmination of the university’s annual benefit event, ARTS by George!
The event was a showcase of talent from George Mason students, ranging from computer graphic design to dance to musical theater cabaret and more. The funds raised support student scholarships in the arts at George Mason University. While the event encompassed a variety of buildings and stages on the Fairfax campus, it was well organized and staffed, with a welcoming atmosphere for patrons and guests.
An Emmy and Tony winner, Chenoweth is easily recognized for her small stature and big personality. She did not disappoint as she entered the stage wearing one of two shimmering outfits, singing a series of song selections from her 2019 album For the Girls. The album is, in her words, “a heartfelt tribute to some great female singers — current and past” — such as Dolly Parton, Dinah Washington, Lesley Gore, and Ariana Grande. Known for her one favorite from the setlist was “You Don’t Own Me,” the 1963 hit by Lesley Gore, performed with two powerhouse female vocalists, Marissa Rosen and Nikki Kimbrough. Another favorite was her surprisingly touching rendition of “Memories,” made famous by Barbra Streisand in the 1973 film The Way We Were. A more unusual selection was a Karen Carpenter song — “Yesterday Once More” — done in a more subdued execution than what audiences are used to from Chenoweth but well-received in its sincerity.
Joining Chenoweth onstage was Michael Orland, pianist and musical director, and guitarist Josh Bryant, whom Chenoweth later revealed to be her real-life boyfriend. And, yes, she delightedly declared that he is much younger than she is and that she’s loving that very fact about it.
Chenoweth’s sparkling personality (and outfits) dazzle her audiences, and we expect her to be funny and cheeky, but she also does project a sincerity in her interpretation of lyrics, proving that maybe her sparkle comes from a little deeper inside. Whatever it is, audiences love her.
Running Time: 105 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.
For the Girls: Kristin Chenoweth in Concert played September 24, 2022, at Center for the Arts, Concert Hall, Fairfax Campus, George Mason University, 4373 Mason Pond Drive Fairfax, VA.
For complete information about ARTS by George!, including scholarship stories, a schedule of student showcases, previous ARTS by George! images, and more, visit the event website.
To learn about upcoming performances at George Mason University, visit cfa.gmu.edu/events/2022-2023-season