Award-winning stage and screen star headlines Season 2 of sitcom
Where John Lithgow left off, Kristin Chenoweth is picking up.
NBC’s “Trial & Error” is made for distinctive comedic performers playing a Southern town’s offbeat crime suspects, and Emmy- and Tony-winning dynamo Chenoweth carries the baton as the satire’s second season begins Thursday, July 19. She plays the fictional East Peck’s society matron, flashy heiress Lavinia Peck-Foster, whose colorful nature doesn’t necessarily help when she’s accused of killing her husband – whose remains are in a suitcase in her car. Relocated New York attorney Josh Segal (cast returnee Nicholas D’Agosto) defends her.
Maintaining “Trial & Error” is “the best job ever” for her, the ever-lively Chenoweth says she empathizes with Lavinia beyond the character’s humorous aspects. ”In comedy, you’re supposed to be funny all the time … but in delving into what makes someone funny, you also have to look at what makes them sad, especially when you have a character who seems unsympathetic. I’ve been in the position before where I’ve had to make an unlikable character likable, but I wanted to make this person lovable.
“What I discovered,” the singer-actress notes, “was that she saw her dad die when she was a little girl, she had a crazy mother, and she was locked inside her huge mansion her whole life. Once a year, she came out for a gala, and it was at her house. That’s some deep stuff, and as an actress being given all these different levels to play, it’s a gift.”
Chenoweth believes she, “Trial & Error” writer and executive producer Jeff Astrof and director Jeffrey Blitz make “a really good team, in that we challenge each other. We got several runs at big, long scenes, with cameras everywhere. We’d just shoot and shoot and by the time they edited it together, they already knew what they were going to do.”
Following her fourth annual Broadway Bootcamp for aspiring young talents in her native Broken Arrow, Okla., Chenoweth is making “Trial & Error” her major summer venture. She’s taking time off to treat a neck ailment from a 2012 accident on the set of “The Good Wife,” causing her to bow out of a number of concert dates including a centennial tribute to composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein at the Hollywood Bowl.
“I was supposed to go right into recording my next album,” Chenoweth says, “but I just finally decided to have some time for self-care, which I’ve never done. (The injury) has been a thorn in my side, so I’m just going to take six weeks and do it. I would like to have a long career, and to do that, I need to give it a break for a minute. But just for a minute!”