Glee's former Broadway star gives us the scoop on new comedy drama GCB
Did you drop your popcorn mid-cackle during Romy and Michele’s High-School Reunion? Ever wondered how the nerd-taunting, bathroom-stalking high-school Mean Girls would look in their 40s? New US series GCB offers a glimpse of life on the flipside. The show – which debuts on OSN on Thursday May 31 – follows recently widowed mother of two Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb), the former queen bee of her Texas high school, who is forced to move back to her old home town and a life less comfortable following the death of her husband and the unfortunate revelation that he was heavily in debt. She’s then faced with having to reunite with the classmates whom she used to take pleasure in torturing, including the town’s newest mean girl, Carlene Cockburn, played by Glee’s Kristin Chenoweth. Vaughn must learn to juggle a newly overweight and insecure housewife, a glamorous businesswoman whose husband is hiding a sordid secret, and a powerful Dallas real-estate agent in her social circle. Here, Kristin Chenoweth dishes the dirt. What personal experience did you draw on for this character? I grew up in Oklahoma, and I grew up in church, so it’s a world I’m very familiar with. We’re telling a very authentic story. I have six aunts, who are very religious, and I’ve learned a lot from them about how to behave and how to act, and I’m grateful for that upbringing. So that all comes into play when I’m listening and watching.
Your character sings in the church choir, so obviously you get to sing on the show. Is that going to be a recurring theme in the series? Probably. But I think she probably gives herself the solos. I think church lends itself to a lot of music, and I don’t think Carlene will be the only one that sings. We have a lot of musically gifted – and un-gifted – people in our cast, and that lends itself to a lot of humour. So you’ll see a lot of music.
Until Glee broke the mould a few years ago, there wasn’t a lot of that stage-musical mentality on TV. I’m really glad it’s becoming more popular. Because of that, we’re able to have [Debra Messing’s new musical-drama series] Smash, which I absolutely love because it’s about Broadway, and I only want success for Broadway-type shows.
What were you like in high school? Were you more of an Amanda (the notorious mean girl), or a Carlene (the outcast)? I was more in the middle. I grew up in a town called Broken Arrow in Oklahoma, and my only way to perform was to be a cheerleader. I’m pretty sure I was the only person that auditioned for the musical, so I was a bit of a nerd, but I had friends in all the social groups.
You’re half-way to winning the EGOT quartet (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony)… I’m so happy to be like ‘the everything kid’: singing, dancing, acting, all of it. Of course, I wouldn’t mind if a Grammy came my way, because singing is my first love. I don’t dwell on that too much, but I want to continue to do things that other people enjoy, that brings happiness to their lives.