Idina Menzel lives by ‘Let it go’
Idina Menzel may not be prepping for the Olympics, but she takes the approach of a world-class athlete when she trains for a global tour.
“You have to build your stamina, get a lot of sleep and take care of yourself,” said the Tony Award-winning actress and singer, speaking from New York. “I prepare as much as I can beforehand and treat it like I am an athlete vocally.”
Menzel will open the North American leg of her 2015 world concert tour Tuesday at the Altria Theater in Richmond. She first performed in the city in 2012.
The earlier part of her tour has taken her around the world.
“It’s beyond anything I could have imagined,” she said. “It’s surreal to go to places you have never been to and have people know who you are.”
Menzel reached stardom on the Broadway stage as Elphaba in the blockbuster “Wicked” and as Maureen in “Rent,” but anyone who is a fan of Disney’s Oscar-winning “Frozen” knows her as the voice of Elsa. Disney has already announced the “Frozen” sequel is in the development stage.
The New York native is the powerhouse behind the film’s Oscar- and Grammy award-winning song “Let It Go.” It’s a song that will always be connected to her, and that she connects with.
“It’s a reminder that we have to keep pushing ourselves and inspiring ourselves to accept that thing that makes us different,” she said of the song. “It’s a reminder for me not to be afraid of my own power and talents and the things that make you stand out. Embrace those things and celebrate them.”
The song moved her the minute she heard it.
“I knew it was such a great song and I was in great company with the Disney family, but I didn’t know it would be such a phenomenon,” she said.
The past couple of years have been a whirlwind for her. She released the Christmas album “Holiday Wishes” last year, her first Top 10 album on Billboard’s chart of the Top 200 albums, received the “Billboard” Breakthrough Artist of the Year award at the annual “Billboard” Women in Music Awards, and also returned to Broadway in the musical “If/Then.” She will open with the touring production of the show in a few early cities.
“It’s my baby,” said Menzel, who worked with the creative team to help develop the show. “It’s important that everybody that didn’t get to see it in Manhattan will get to see it.”
Menzel also was tapped to star in “Happy Time,” a new comedy pilot from Warner Bros. TV and Ellen Degeneres’ A Very Good Production.
“They are writing and working on the story for it now,” she said.
Right now her career is going strong, but that’s not all that occupies her time and energy.
“Some days it’s everything and some days, because I have a 5-year-old son, life is about my family, and that is what gives me perspective with all of this craziness going on,” she said. “I am just like any other working mom. I am constantly guilty. I am guilty that I am not with my son enough and I am guilty when I am not giving enough to my career. I am doing the best I can.”
She believes her strength and independence are important not only for her own growth but also for her son. If she didn’t pursue her dreams, her son “wouldn’t grow up with a woman that is happy, strong and confident,” she said. “I would rather my son have that idea of a woman rather than someone that compromised herself.”
Menzel has loved Broadway and performing ever since she was a child.
“As a little girl I would come into the city from Long Island to see Broadway shows,” she said. “My whole life, that is what I wanted to do.”
Even though she will be singing many of the same songs she has performed before, Menzel always tries to leave room in her show for spontaneity.
“There is something about being ready for everything and willing to be open and vulnerable that leads to fun and happy mistakes,” she said. “It took many years for me to stop knocking myself when I make those mistakes. I realize now that something wonderful happens when mistakes happen.”
After becoming a mom, she quickly learned that she couldn’t do it all and realized she had to lessen the pressure she put on herself.
“I may be sleep-deprived or late because I am picking up my son from school, but by lowering my expectations I take the pressure off of myself,” she said. “I end up having a better performance and a better day because I was relaxed and free.”