A group of musical theater students from the University of Arizona had the opportunity of a lifetime when they were invited to perform live onstage alongside award-winning Broadway, film and television actress Kristin Chenoweth.
Ten students from the UA School of Theatre, Film & Television joined Chenoweth and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra on Jan. 17 for a one-night special performance, "An Intimate Evening with Kristin Chenoweth," at the Tucson Music Hall.
Dressed in high-heeled silver boots and a red T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "Just a girl who decided to go for it," Chenoweth greeted the UA students with a warm round of hugs a couple of hours prior to the show. Then, she grabbed a bejeweled microphone and launched into rehearsal with them.
It was an unforgettable moment for the UA undergraduates, many of whom said they have followed the vocal powerhouse's career since they were young children.
"We're trying to figure out who we are as performers, and so to really be around and be on the same stage as such an amazing and iconic performer is a huge learning experience for us," said Alia Vinson, a freshman majoring in musical theater.
Chenoweth is known for originating the role of Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway musical "Wicked," and she earned a Tony Award for her performance as Sally Brown in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." She also has two Emmy nominations and a People's Choice Award for her featured role on the hit television show "Glee," and an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in "Pushing Daisies."
Hank Stratton, an assistant professor of acting and directing at the UA, is a friend of Chenoweth's and worked with the actress' musical director, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, to coordinate the UA students' participation in the performance.
The UA students, all in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in musical theater, performed two songs with Chenoweth: "Reasons for Hope," written by Campbell, and "Upon This Rock."
"This is a thrilling opportunity for our musical theater majors, and furthers our commitment to connect our BFA students with current working professionals," Stratton said. "Both Kristin and Mary-Mitchell are committed to student and community engagement, and the three of us agreed that this would be a perfect partnership."
The participating students were freshmen Vinson, Vinney Pugliese, Taylor Maresca, Jackson Wujek, Hannah Peyton, Reagan Kennedy, Michael Laverde and Steven Enriquez, and seniors Zach Zupke and Rachel Franke.