The world seems particularly terrible today, so here is a nice thing: Last night, at NBC’s A Very Wicked Halloween, Kristin Chenoweth performed “Popular,” her signature song from the smash Broadway musical in which she originated the role of Glinda in 2003. To watch it is to experience nearly five minutes of concentrated, inescapable charm.
The concert was a celebration of Wicked’s 15 years on Broadway, and if you have any fondness at all for that show and its score full o’ power ballads, it’s worth checking out more than just Chenoweth’s performance. You can see original Elphaba Idina Menzel straight-up murder “Defying Gravity,” Ariana Grande belt her way through “The Wizard and I,” and a whole chorus of Glindas and Elphabas — led by Chenoweth and Menzel — get teary-eyed together over “For Good.” There’s Pentatonix and Adam Lambert and the entire current Broadway company of Wicked, all there.
But if you have limited time and you need just a quick hit of something uplifting — and even if you’re one of those people who always thought Wicked was too bombastic and over-the-top — Chenoweth is here for you.
Watch her imperiously command her audience to applaud her! Watch her guide the superfans in the front row into the perfect selfie-taking angle! Watch her commandeer a man to carry her down into the audience as she breathes, “Oh, mosh pit!” Chenoweth is in such pure Broadway diva mode, and it works so well with the song, that it almost feels as though Glinda should always be played by a woman in her 50s who’s had time to develop a healthy regard for her own inarguable superiority.
As Chenoweth herself crows, mid-dance break, she’s still got it.