Saturday, October 01, 2011

A Little Bit Wicked

book review

Book: A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages
Author: Kristin Chenoweth with Joni Rodgers
Genre: Non-fiction, (auto)biography
Publisher: Touchstone
Excerpt: “People keep reminding me that billions — with a b as in bombastic and boy howdy! — yes, billions of people all over the world will be tuned in. …
I make my way backstage in my Jimmy Choos. I'm getting nervous. This doesn't happen to me much anymore. Like everyone around me, I'm a seasoned pro. Stage fright is a thing of the past. But tonight, as I prepare to step onstage, a hollow, little ice cube of doubt forms in the pit of my touchy stomach. I close my eyes. Heavenly Father...
I don't have to say anything else. He knows.
Adding one last dash of adorable to the Enchanted number is Vanessa Williams’s little daughter Sasha, so Vanessa is here, helping her get ready. She gives me a good-luck scrunch and tells me, "Sasha's going to be right there when you look at her."
It's good to have another Broadway girl backstage. There's no unnerving a woman who's conquered the pageant circuit and delivered eight shows a week. She's a glam-cat paragon of strength and calm. Sasha's learning early what it took me years to understand. Crew hands hustle out the set pieces. The hunks and I brace ourselves for places.”

She has competed in beauty pageants, performed on Broadway, acted in films and television shows, released albums, and won accolades along the way (including a Tony and an Emmy award). Her talent and impressive resume has made Kristin Chenoweth a star, and her book, A Little Bit Wicked, offers a peek at how she became the person she is today. The diminutive diva takes a light-hearted look at her life in the memoir, which, as she states, is not “a proper “tell-all” autobiography”, but a “completely biased “tell-a-little” slice of life, which reflects my personal recollections and opinions”.

The actress and singer talks about her adoption, not knowing her birth parents, and her love for her “real” family; as she explains, “family has never been restricted by genetics or paperwork” for her. Kristin also shares anecdotes from her life, revolving around friends, colleagues, fans, and even a stalker, while charting her road to showbiz success. She reminisces about finishing as the second runner-up one too many times in beauty pageants, and discusses what it was like to work on Broadway musicals such as You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Wicked, and TV series including The West Wing and Pushing Daisies (and, of course, her “huge hit sitcom” – “Huge hit. Puccini high-note huge. Ask either of the people who saw it.” – titled Kristin, which was cancelled during its first season). The actress makes several references to her faith and religious views, and also touches up on her experience with Ménière's disease, and her on-again-off-again relationship with Aaron Sorkin; the character of Harriet Hayes on his show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was inspired by her, and “the Kristin-to-Harriet correlation” is detailed in the book.

The Southern belle repeatedly displays her sunny personality and folksy charm in her memoir. But it is evident that the actress/singer could have delved a lot deeper on various experiences and issues – not just with respect to herself but also about the workings of Broadway and Hollywood – which would have made the book more interesting and revelatory, but she clearly chose not to. Also, Kristin’s (or perhaps Joni Rodgers’) writing style is at times bright and breezy, at others disjoint, overly-cutesy, and self-indulgent, while her perkiness, positivity, and religious views swing between being impressive and endearing to dichotomous and contradictory. Still, her energy is palpable throughout A Little Bit Wicked, and there are enough bits and pieces of information here to make the book appealing to her fans; if you want to take a look at a lively snapshot of the life of a showbiz star, then this short, quick read will serve the purpose.

- Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 1st October, 2011

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