Frozen’s Let It Go has inspired more than Disney fans. It’s also given a boost to the Broadway star behind it, who for years hid her talent and her true personality
Broadway stars are not typically known for their modesty: it takes a certain amount of self-belief to stand on stage, eight times a week, and hold an audience. And Idina Menzel has been doing that for two decades, ever since she got her break in the original production of Rent, through her award-winning, career-making role in Wicked, and now in If/Then, a year-long run of a show that was written for her.
As big a star as musical theatre has ever seen, she has over the past year become a bona fide star of the screen as well – after a fashion. Menzel is the voice of Elsa, the magical, ice-powered princess in Frozen, the most successful animated film of all time. Which means she is the voice of Let It Go, the girl-power anthem that roared, topping charts globally, inspiring YouTube tributes galore and winning an Oscar for best song.
And all of this means that she is suddenly the worldwide heroine nonpareil of little girls everywhere – even if they may initially be confused that a girlish, blonde Scandinavian royal is actually a 43-year-old raven-haired Jewish Long Islander.
“It depends on their age,” she says, asked whether many young Frozen fans understand who she is. “But more than you’d ever think. I remember some of those classic Disney songs from movies, and you knew the character but you didn’t know the person behind the song. But this is different, this is weird. All the little girls love Elsa but they also want to meet me. I think that’s because of social media, and their parents say, ‘Watch this, this is the girl at the Oscars.’
“I’ve been trying to understand why it’s helping me so much, personally. But then I think, ‘Oh, I should give myself some credit – maybe it’s the interpretation of the song that I gave.’”