Hollywood Bowl Season Kicks Off With a Hall of Fame Induction Honoring Kristin Chenoweth

Courtesy of Subject

Legendary comedian Carol Burnett will honor the actress, along with '80s pop band the Go-Go's and musical ensemble Pink Martini, on June 21.

It’s a whole new season at the Hollywood Bowl.

To kick off its opening night on June 21, three acts will be inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in a ceremony led by legendary comedian Carol Burnett, who will honor Kristin Chenoweth, 1980s pop band the Go-Go’s and eclectic musical ensemble Pink Martini. Actors Helen Hunt and Taraji P. Henson, as well as singer Natasha Bedingfield will also be presenting. Newly appointed principal conductor Thomas Wilkins will be leading the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

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Burnett, who was raised in Hollywood in the '30s and '40s, used to sneak into the Bowl as a kid. “I just remember looking way down at how tiny the Bowl was. They didn’t have the screens or anything so the people looked like teeny teeny teeny toys," the actress tells The Hollywood Reporter. The comedian says she counts Chenoweth as a dear friend. “I think she has it all. When they talk about who can do variety, like I always say, Maya Rudolph and Kristin Chenoweth.”

Chenoweth, a star onstage and onscreen, was active off-Broadway in plays like The Fantasticks before winning a Tony for You're a Good Man Charlie Brown in 1999. Two years later was a watershed for the pint-size performer, including a TV deal with Paramount, the release of her first solo album, Let Yourself Go, and her debut at the Hollywood Bowl.

“For the first time in my singing concert career I understood the phrase 'My knees were knockin’,” recalled Chenoweth in an email. “I took a picture, at rehearsal with the orchestra, of our view of the audience. It was massive!”

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Chenoweth occupies the cleanup slot on Saturday’s program and will sing about half a dozen songs, including a duet with special guest Lea Michele. The Go-Go’s will perform a selection of their hit songs, including “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which guitarist Jane Wiedlin co-wrote with Terry Hall of the British ska group, The Specials, with whom she had an affair back in the '80s.

“He was engaged to be married to a girl but then he fell in love with me,” she says about the origins of the hit song. “Our bands were together on tour in England and after the tour he would write me and he would send me these lyrics. And one of the lyrics was ‘Our Lips Are Sealed,’ about us, and I really loved it and I wrote the music for it.”

The Hollywood Bowl will turn 92 next month, but the Hall of Fame has been around only since 2000. An exhibit in the Hollywood Bowl Museum includes photos and film of inductees over the years, including the likes of George Harrison, the members of Monty Python, and Frank Sinatra.

This summer, the world-famous venue offers a packed calendar with stars like Steve Martin, Elvis Costello and Seth MacFarlane, as well as a production of the musical Hair, starring Kristen Bell and Beverly D’Angelo, and directed by Adam Shankman.

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“The first concert I went to was at the Hollywood Bowl, Elton John, and that was in 1972,” recalls Wiedlin, who spent most of her formative years in L.A. For the Go-Go’s, the opening night concert kicks off their U.S. tour, which includes 13 stops in July alone.

“The Hollywood Bowl is just a magical place,” she smiles, happy to be starting the tour from home. “L.A. is lucky to have a venue like that.”