BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — The second session of the Kristin Chenoweth Broadway Bootcamp is underway this week. The camp culminates in a final show on Saturday, July 30th, called the Kristi Awards. The free show is directed by famed director and choreographer Kenny Ortega.
"Kristin Chenoweth is going to be on stage, and it's going to be something this town has never seen," says Kenny Ortega.
Chenoweth started the Broadway Bootcamp at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center in 2015.
"It's easy to forget when you get those Hollywood lights in your eyes and see that Broadway sign, but really when you're home... you're grounded," says Kristin Chenoweth.
And for the "Wickedly" famous international superstar, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma is home.
"There are lots of times I come home, and no one knows I'm here. I mean, eventually, it comes out because I speak," says Chenoweth.
That famous voice grew up in Broken Arrow, and her family still lives here. Her first musical memory traces back to 4th grade at Vandiver Elementary, where she starred as Laurey in the musical Oklahoma!
Chenoweth recalls, "The first scene is me sweeping. Laurey sweeping the porch, singing 'Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day,' and the teacher goes, so here's your broom and I was like um, how do you sweep? All I know is, that night, my mom was like, this is a broom, and now you will sweep the garage, the front porch, the back porch, the neighbor's porch. By the time you go back to rehearsal the next day, you're going to know how to sweep!"
Chenoweth is no stranger to hard work. After graduating from Broken Arrow High School, she went on to Oklahoma City University, where she earned a Bachelor's in Musical Theatre and a Master's in Opera. She was also Miss OCU and second runner-up in Miss Oklahoma in 1991. Chenoweth, a Tony and Emmy award winner, says even now, she's a student every day.
"I'm 53 and still working at it!" says Chenoweth.
Her dedication to her craft and young Broadway hopefuls sparked the Kristin Chenoweth Broadway Bootcamp. It's an intensive week-long music theatre camp for 8th through 12th-grade kids. So popular, there are two sessions this year.
"We did virtual last year. We missed it the year before altogether, and I wasn't going to let that happen. We are being safe, doing our covid tests, and we are still going to bring campers from all over the world to Oklahoma," says Chenoweth.
More than 4,000 auditioned for around 100 spots. This year 26 states and three countries are represented, making this the first International in-person Broadway Bootcamp.
"I want them to see how many people across the world are like them. They can be into football and wrestling and still love musical theatre. We are all represented," says Chenoweth.
Broadway and Hollywood are represented here too. Chenoweth brought in a team of coaches. That includes Director and Choreographer Kenny Ortega, who is this year's Camp Director. He is well known for High School Musical and Dirty Dancing.
"He's like a blanket for my soul, and if he's like that for my soul, I know what he's going to bring to the camp."
The Kristin Chenoweth Broadway Bootcamp ends with a final performance called the Kristi Awards.
"I call it the Broken Arrow Tony's," says Chenoweth.
For the first time, Chenoweth will be joined on-stage by the Penguin Project, a performing arts program for kids with disabilities.
"There's plenty of room for happy tears," says Chenoweth.
Happy tears in her happy place, Chenoweth's hometown.
"It's 1300 miles to Broadway and 1300 miles to come home. So I get to get back to the red dirt," says Chenoweth.
You must have a ticket to attend Saturday night's free Kristi Awards by clicking here.
See the full story of Kristin's journey to Broadway this Tuesday at 10 on 2 News Oklahoma.