"Hi, I am Kristin," Kristin Chenoweth said.
In keeping up with the sassy petite gal, I wanted to respond teasingly, "Who?" But more like a "duh" slipped out of my mouth, loud enough to be heard by some of the other Chenoweth disciples awaiting eagerly their turn to be introduced to the "There-is-nothing-I-can't-sing-or-do — except television" (her funny words, not mine) celeb.
During a private reception, where more 30 friends, family and fans packed the tiny Jones Hall Green Room, chatter about her sparkly pumps, her cutesy travel-size-I-can-put-you-in-my-pocket stature and her sunny smile overtook any commentary about the show.
But more than just a brief rendezvous and photo op with Chenoweth after her concert in Houston as part of the "Some Lessons Learned" 19-city tour, the reception was an informal meet-and-greet with the ambiance of a genteel southern Christian bar mitzvah brunch reception sans food at around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Yes, we all know who you are, Kristin Chenoweth, but it was that whimsical salutation that disarmed anyone awe-struck by Hollywood-cum-Broadway star sight 'ems, and go on to prattle with Chenoweth as if there was some long-lost-thrice-removed cousin connection.
This bachelorette doll worked the room like a pro, but without making it a "god-now-I-have-to-meet-my-fans" kind of chore.
Then again, with "aunt this" and "cousin that" and "uncle whatever" and a group of blondes that could have been her sororities sisters in a past life present — and an ex-beau with his parents in the room — it wasn't just Chenoweth on parade, it was the whole mishpuche with her well-behaved Maltese Maddie also in the mix.
Nice to meet you as well. Enchanté.
The truth is out there, no breaking news here: Chenoweth is 4-feet, 11-inches tall stepping out of her 5-inch-high twinkling stilettos. But you can't appreciate the size paradox until you come face-to-face with the show biz doyenne. It takes one warm "Hi, I am Kristin" for her to exceed your height in spirit, just like Chenoweth told the audience she used to sing, "I'm Only 4-Foot-11 but I'm Going to Heaven, and it Makes Me Feel 10-Feet Tall," when she was a young girl.
Amid conversing about interviews, bubble baths, doggies, films, GCB (really ABC, really?) and family, sporting jeans, a gray sleeveless button down, hair pulled back in a pony tail, no jewelry and just enough makeup for glow, this bachelorette doll worked the room like a pro, but without making it a "god-now-I-have-to-meet-my-fans" kind of chore.
She genuinely was glad to be there, and she was glad you were there, too.
After a teasing musical intro of her colossal range, courtesy of her music director Mary Mitchell and a 12-piece ensemble — and in case you forgot whom you were there to see, a video montage of key moments in her professional career splattered across a screen with her name in shiny boldface type, to be repeated at the end with more personal material and family photos — Chenoweth pranced onto the stage in a black form-fitting pantsuit bedecked with shimmering earrings, a wide bracelet and a bedazzled microphone.
There's no need to choose between one genre or another for Chenoweth, why not do it all?
And a 32-ounce something-something from Sonic — and a red straw.
No doubt, this was the Kristin Chenoweth Show.
Applause. Screams. We love you Kristin.
She opened with "Should I be Sweet?," from the 1933 musical Take a Chance, which she recorded in her 2001 album Let Yourself Go. Such lyrics, in a way, recount the synopsis of her career. There's no need to choose between one genre or another for Chenoweth, why not do it all? A bit of this, a bit of that, gospel, opera, musical theater, pop, Broadway, jazz, classical, Americana, you name it.
(Insert joke: Not the Dallas Mavs, love, it's the Rockets. You are in Houston.)
Things got sexy rowdy in "Maybe this time" from Cabaret, which Chenoweth sung in Glee with Lea Michele. The chanteuse let her hair down, literally, and pitched her scrunchy to stage right, tossing her curls side-to-side . . . now this is a party, one fabulous musical fete. When she growled through some of the seductive melodies, listeners went insane with standing ovations, cat calls and whistles.
There was plenty of witty kitsch for those that wanted some quirky theatricality. In "Going to the Dance With You" one foxy cowboy portrayed a horse which she rode on, and the other got down in all fours as a stool for a high-heeled, no-flats shoe fad spoof for "In These Shoes?" And when the men danced off the stage hand-in-hand pretending to be gay (or not, who knows), Chenoweth quipped, "This happened, no joke."
"Popular" in Japanese, German, Dutch and whatever other language she found on YouTube, a pretend phone call to and an ode to Dolly Parton with "What Would Dolly Do?," an Avenue Q puppet comedic skit and a sneak peek at the late Donna Summer disco tribute duet for American Idol with finalist Jessica Sanchez . . . that was icing on the cupcake.
Chenoweth delivered her strongest message: Although she was an entertainer, she wished to leave her mark in the world through her charitable work.
But if I had to single out one favorite moment, I couldn't. There wasn't just one.
Though written for a tenor for the character of Jean Valjean, "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables, or "The Misfits," as her mom used to say, evinced her operatic training, delicious control and vast array of vocal colors, all while nodding to her "controversial," unapologetic Christian values. "From This Rock" brought the audience to their feet.
No one in the hall was convinced that the impromptu duet performance of "For Good" from Wicked with a 19-year-old concertgoer chosen at random wasn't planted, albeit it was unscripted.
And it was in the encore, a nostalgic guitar-accompanied version of "I Will Always Love You" as first penned by Parton that honored Whitney Houston, when Chenoweth delivered her strongest message: Although she was an entertainer, she wished to leave her mark in the world through her charitable work.
With that, Chenoweth surely left a strong mark in Houston. No one will forget this performance.