Kristin Chenoweth went from strength to strength around the turn of the 21st century, beginning with an award-winning stage career on Broadway that later expanded into television roles and a recording contract. The photogenic soprano grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and attended the nearby Oklahoma City University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in musical theater and a master's degree in opera performance. She also won a Most Talented Up-and-Coming Singer award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, which entitled her to a full scholarship at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. Before matriculating, however, she auditioned for an off-Broadway production of Dames at Sea and landed the part, which prompted her to relocate to New York and turn professional instead. She followed Dames at Sea with a stint in the long-running off-Broadway musical The Fantasticks, played leading roles at such prestigious regional theaters as the Goodspeed Opera House and the Guthrie Theatre, and served as Jerome Robbins' guest soloist in his West Side Story Suite of Dances at New York City Ballet.