The second book I read in 2009 was Kristin Chenoweth’s memoir A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages. I have been a fan of Ms. Chenoweth’s for many years and was eager to see what her memoir was about. Let me note that this is the very first memoir I have ever read and I was apprehensive about picking up a celebrity memoir; however, since it was Kristin Chenoweth I was immediately appeased. In interviews around the book launch Kristin herself claims that this is not “a tell all” but more of a “how I got where I am so far”. Her memoir starts off with a bit of background into her February 2008 Oscar appearance and performance and then promptly leaps backward to her childhood. Chenoweth shies away from nothing in her memoir, her adoption and family life, her schooling, her route to New York and Broadway, her relationships, her failed career moves, and her faith. Her faith plays a big role in the memoir, she is forever saying something about Jesus(I can’t recall all the phrases she uses) but she never is preachy and I so appreciate that! She doesn’t flaunt her faith or make you feel like her christianity is better than any other religion. She is incredibly tolerant and has been ostracized for her views on homosexuality that conflict with her religion’s official view.
As this is not a tell-all it is awe-inspiring as Chenoweth recalls her chronology of work that originated in Off-Broadway and Broadway productions with forays in television (her forever mentioned failed sitcom Kristin, The West Wing and of course Pushing Daisies) and feature films. She mentions super-producer Andrew Lippa, as well as other well-known Broadway actors but not to be pretentious in name dropping-she thoroughly explains her relationship with her colleagues,whether personal and professional and makes herself more human in result. She recounts her diagnosis and her ongoing struggle with meniere’s disease which is related to vertigo in a way that makes it even more amazing how she manages to perform while under the symptoms and flare-ups of her condition. She recalls her failed romances as well as her special connection to on and off lover, the talented Mr. Aaron Sorkin, who writes a ‘Special Guest Appearance’ section that chronicles their relationship and fondness for each other. My favorite chapter was her recounting her involvement with the Broadway debut of Wicked and her incarnation of G(a)linda. It is a regret of mine that I was unable to see her and Idina Menzel in the Broadway production but I hear a feature film based on the musical is in the works!
Overall this is a delightful and engaging read from one of the most talented singers and actresses of our time. It reads like an extended catch-up session with an old friend over coffee at a great independent coffee-house with lots of lattes flowing and great pastries being baked. Chenoweth did use a ghostwriter, Joni Rodgers who is known for her own memoir. I am not sure how much a celebrity writes a memoir or what a ghost writer’s role is in the memoir writing process but I truly believe this reads as if Kristin herself was dictating this. Some readers may argue that the tone and diction may be a tad folksy but I think that that is what makes this a more endearing read. This is a must-read for all Chenoweth and Broadway fans alike.