By Seana Warren
In 2012, Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth came home to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma for a special concert. While she was driving around with friends, she asked if they could drive by the home where she grew up. They pulled alongside the front yard and stopped. The new owner was in the front yard and welcomed them into his home, but there was a problem. His daughter, a huge fan of Kristin, wasn’t home to meet her. He led a tour around the house and Kristin made a special stop in her child-hood bedroom to take a peek; but, she couldn’t leave without writing a special note for the little girl with whom she now shares a little bit of her childhood.
During that same trip, Kristin was home to perform a benefit concert for the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center. The theater was named after her at that concert. She was so moved, she sat down to talk about what she could give back to her home town.
“It all started at a kitchen table following the concert,” said Mark Frie, Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center executive director. “We talked with Kristin about what her legacy would be. She wanted to impact the next generation of artists in Oklahoma.”
Four friends joined together to create The Kristin Chenoweth Fund. The fantastic four, as we’ll call them, is made up of Kristin, Mark Frie, and John Sawyer and Jack Wallace, partners and realtors at Chinowth & Cohen.
“We decided to create a Broadway Boot Camp for area youth,” said Jack Wallace. “No matter if they decide to grow up to be an actor, a banker or a lawyer, theater can help every one be better communicators and better speakers. I know theater has helped me in every aspect of my life.”
The past few years, Broadway Boot Camp has been co-produced by Oklahoma City University, Kristin’s alma mater. But, this year, the Kristin Chenoweth Fund will exclusively run it; and, Kristin is bringing some really famous friends back home with her.
Broadway Boot Camp will take place June 12 – 16, 2017. Guest stars leading the camp with Kristin are Richard Jay Alexander, Broadway Director and Producer for Kristin, as well as Barbara Streisand, Bernadette Peters and Bette Midler; Mary Mitchell Campbell Drama Desk Award-winner for Orchestration; Faith Prince, Tony Award-winning Best Actress and film and television star; Joel Ferrel, Dallas Theatre Center Director; and Lara Teeter, Tony nominated Broadway actor. There will also be a few surprise guests we can’t mention at the moment, and don’t forget the casting agents from New York for stage television and film and professional photographers.
“Each February, we have auditions for the Broadway Boot Camp,” said Wallace. “The summer program has grown so much, we are making plans to accommodate the growth in the future.”
“It’s selfishly rewarding,” said Frie. “In the day to day business side of theater, you forget about the passion, and the love for theater. This is making a tremendous impact on area youth. It’s helping shape their lives. I’m honored to be involved.”
The tuition for the program is only $200 per student, but if a student cannot pay for any reason, they are never turned away. Funds are raised from the master class performance and at many of Kristin’s national performances.
Kristin will be in town on May 6th performing her Broadway show My Love Letter to Broadway at 7:30 p.m. at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center. The newly selected Broadway Boot Camp students will be introduced during the performance.
For tickets to the performances, more information or to donate to the Kristin Chenoweth Fund, please contact the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center.