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Chenoweth: 'I would've loved' Philly

She took a different, winning route, but she's back Friday.

There's a lot to know about singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth, including her rarely considered Philly stats.

"C'mon now, I would've loved it," Chenoweth says with a laugh when asked how miserable her life would have been if, in 1993, she had used her full scholarship at Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts instead of auditioning in New York for Animal Crackers, a part she got.

"It was a really tough choice for me," Chenoweth recalls. "It's an exclusive school. I tried out and got in. The role in New York came unexpectedly and while the voice is an extension of me, I'm an actor and a dancer too. It was a risk."

Oddly enough, her next move wouldn't take her far from Philly as her second theatrical experience, Box Office of the Damned, was with composer and then-Philadelphian Michael Ogborn's Off-Broadway debut.

"Oh my God, I love Michael," Chenoweth yells. "Box Office of the Damned remains one of my favorite shows that I've ever done. He's so talented." (His new musical Tulipomania opens this week at the Arden Theatre in Old City.)

Chenoweth is also excited to discuss her tour's promoter, Philly's Larry Magid. "I know who he's worked with - everybody. I got his approval, I'm good. I'm done. He's old school. He gets me."

Chenoweth is a proud alum of the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant. "My parents moved to West Chester in 1991 and, after coming in as the first runner-up in the Miss Oklahoma Pageant when I grew up there, it made me eligible to compete there." She got a second runner-up prize and the honor of representing Harrisburg. "I probably know more about your state than you do. At the very least, I know the difference between a Wawa and a 7-Eleven."

With a career that has found Chenoweth focusing on everything from Broadway (Promises, Promises, Wicked) to film (Running With Scissors) to television (The West Wing, Glee, GCB), it seems odd that she'd singularly embrace the concert stage as she's doing now.

"I've been doing many things at once and could never fully commit to a tour." But she's also indebted to her label, Sony Classical, for allowing her to run the gamut from '30s standards ("Let Yourself Go"), to Christian music ("As I Am"), to country, the music of her youth ("Some Lessons Learned").

"I told the label that they had to let me do a country album - it's my very favorite music. They swallowed hard and said yes. I think it works well - this is music from my heart and soul," Chenoweth  says.

It's also crucial to understand her Christian beliefs. "I'm from the Bible Belt, everything was church. The music isn't hard for me. What's hard is being a person of faith in show business and trying to let people know that not all Christians are the same."