Kristin Chenoweth heads to ‘Candy Land’ in board game-inspired baking show
Over six episodes, five teams of professional cake and sugar artists compete in Candy Land-inspired baking challenges, in a studio designed to replicate the game board.
Kristin Chenoweth never imagined she’d be hosting a cooking show.
“Anybody that knows me knows I don’t go in my kitchen,” says the Emmy- and Tony-winning actress and singer. “Kitchens actually make me nervous, so when Food Network called, I thought somebody was pranking me.”
But she immediately salivated at the idea for “Candy Land,” a baking competition inspired by the classic Hasbro board game, premiering at 8 p.m. Nov. 15. Over six episodes, five teams of professional cake and sugar artists compete in Candy Land-inspired baking challenges, in a studio designed to replicate the game board.
Traveling through live-size versions of the Gumdrop Mountains, Lollipop Woods and Lemon Lime Springs, (100 pounds of chocolate were used for Chocolate Mountain, 1,000 lollipops were needed to create Lollipop Woods) contestants are tasked with finding ingredients unique to each candy land.
Chef judges Nacho Aguirre and Aarti Sequeira determine which teams advance as they forage for flavors and ingredients within each land for their sugar masterpieces. Teams advance down the board game path based on creativity, technical execution, and how well the candies of the land were incorporated into their treats. The first team to make it to King Kandy’s Castle wins the game and earns the grand prize of $25,000.
Chenoweth, 52, also stars as an animated mouse named Daisy in a remake of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches” (streaming on HBO Max), and plays Emma Roberts’ uninhibited aunt in Netflix rom-com “Holidate” (now streaming). The “Wicked” actress called USA TODAY from the Vancouver set of her still-untitled Apple TV+ musical series to talk about “Candy Land” and more.
Q. What was it like shooting in a life-sized Candy Land game?
A. Everything on this set was edible, so I was in trouble. I’d be like, “I’ll just have a little bit of cotton candy from that tree.” It was like an absolutely magical wonderland. If I’m flipping through the channels, it looks like something I’d want to watch just because of what (the contestants) were constructing and molding and making out of all the ingredients they could use on the set. One day they’d be at Chocolate Mountain, and the next they’d be at Peppermint Forest.
Q. Did you feel inspired to try baking again after hosting this show?
A. Yeah, by “inspired” I mean, I got the Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough precut, did some white icing, and made them into little sandwiches that I sent to Aarti and Nacho. They were like, “Kris, have we taught you nothing? You can make those from scratch.” And I’m like, “I don’t want to! I’m scared!” (At 4-foot-11), I can’t reach anything in my kitchen! It’s hard for me. But if we’re still in (quarantine) within the next several months, I might try a couple things that I learned.
Q. Hasbro has been developing a Monopoly-inspired stage musical. Do you think Candy Land would make a good Broadway show?
A.Of course! You’ve got Lord Licorice, King Kandy, and all the different players and worlds. And no offense to Monopoly, but Candy Land’s worlds are really pretty. King Kandy would need to be (played by) Nathan Lane, no question.
Q. You’re voicing a mouse in the remake of “The Witches,” starring Anne Hathaway (in the Anjelica Houston role from the 1990 film). How different is director Robert Zemeckis’ take on the story?
A.This has equal creepiness, but he has put a little bit more heart in there that I find so special, especially with Octavia Spencer’s character. So it’s a bit more well-rounded. When I made the film, I was in quarantine in New York. Robert Zemeckis sent me all the (recording) equipment and my boyfriend (musician Josh Bryant) built a studio out of my closet with these huge blankets and a computer and microphone. I didn’t know how I was going to make an animated film in my closet, but we did it and I’ve gotten to see little snippets of the animation, and it turned out gorgeous.
Q. You’re starting work on an untitled Apple TV+ musical comedy with Cecily Strong (“Saturday Night Live”) and Keegan-Michael Key. What’s that been like with COVID-19 safety guidelines in place?
A.The wonderful part is they’re extremely cautious, but artistically, it’s hard. I’m with a bunch of actors and we all want to be together, and we’re having to social distance. I don’t think anything is being lost, but it’s interesting. I have a song and dance in this show, and I’m learning it alone and the (chorus dancers) are learning it separately from me. Then when we are finally together, we will be outside rehearsing it with cones on. I call us “coneheads.” You know when a dog gets surgery? We’re all wearing those. Obviously we won’t have those when we shoot, but it’s just a whole new world, isn’t it?
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