Exclusive: Kristin Chenoweth talks about her Tribulations performance in Schmigadoon, ‘I didn’t think I had it in me’

An image of Kristin Chenoweth in Schmigadoon
Kristin Chenoweth created her look in Schmigadoon. Pic credit: Apple TV+

Famed Broadway actor Kristin Chenoweth is a show-stopper in Apple TV’s Schmigadoon. Previously known for originating the role of Glinda in the Broadway cast of Wicked and guest-starring in Glee as April Rhodes, Chenoweth is now stealing scenes as Mildred Layton in Schmigadoon, a villainous preacher’s wife.

Schmigadoon is Apple TV’s latest comedy, coming after the renowned success of Ted Lasso. But this show pushes things to a brand new limit, it’s a comedy musical series starring a genius combination of established actors from stage and screen.

Broadway fans will love to see Chenoweth, Ariana DeBose and Aaron Tveit frolicking across their television screens, whereas others will find familiarity watching comedian Keegan-Michael Key, SNL’s Cecily Strong and Jane the Virgin’s Jaime Camil pulling the laughs.

Schmigadoon follows lost couple Melissa and Josh, played by Key and Strong, after they find themselves stuck in a town called Schmigadoon. This town has taken the identity of a 1940s musical, posing a major conflict for the couple is the preacher’s wife (Chenoweth).

Speaking about her character, the stage actor shared how she was able to create the look for her character. “I played the villain many times when I’ve always looked like this,” Chenoweth said, gesturing to her sparkly attire and manicured look.

“You know, I’ve never gotten to really go there. When [Barry] Sonnefield, who I know very well, said you’re going to be allowed to do what you want. I said, no, she has to be…” Chenoweth trailed off before adding, “The only thing I didn’t get to is I really wanted a big hairy mole, I didn’t get that. I did not win that argument.”

Sharing more about creating her character’s look, the 53-year-old actor said, “But, he let me do the maniacal Joker lips, and the hair, and the too-tight corset, and the Mothers Against the Future.”

Monsters and Critics had the opportunity to chat with Kristin Chenoweth about filming during the COVID-19 pandemic and finding hope through Schmigadoon.

Rehearsing on a treadmill

Hilariously enough, Chenoweth got her best rehearsals while walking on a treadmill. She shared, “I had this big number in episode five. And he [Sonnefield] said, we’re going to do it in one take. And he knows me so well, I knew that I would want to do it because I want to continue to challenge myself.” She continued, “But what we’re used to doing is rehearsing. So, my rehearsal happened by myself in quarantine on a treadmill, which I asked Apple to get me so that I could do Tribulation every day and watch 90 Day Fiance.”

Chenoweth did manage to do her 18-paged performance of Tribulations in one-take, as seen in the latest episode of Schmigadoon. She said, “So, thank you, Apple, for the treadmill.”

Staying warmed up during the pandemic

Kristin Chenoweth shared that staying attuned to her talents was a bit harder than expected during the pandemic, as when New York City first shut down in March 2020, she thought it would “be over soon.”

She went on to express, “It was very not smart of me, I was in New York, across the street from a hospital, and when I started seeing things that I don’t even need to discuss, I thought, oh, my gosh. I’m a person of faith. So I said, God, please help me understand. Help me understand.”

Talking about being solicited to star in Schmigadoon (which filmed in Canada) during these unpredictable times, Chenoweth added, “Somebody comes along and I’m being asked to go to a foreign country in the height of the pandemic with before the vaccine. You know, I was first in line as soon as I could. Schmigadoon brought me joy. And honestly, I knew a lot of the actors before. It was like water in the desert.”

Tearfully clarifying her comments, Chenoweth beautifully added, “Schimigadoon did a lot for me. I hope this doesn’t sound selfish. It did a lot for me, personally. I had a lot of loss right before that. I didn’t think I had it in me and it brought me so much joy and it brings me joy to watch it.”

Check out our full interview.

New episodes of Schmigadoon arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday.

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