Idina Menzel on ’Idina Menzel LIVE: Barefoot at the Symphony’
Mmm… nice. Idina Menzel is wowing audiences across the country, right now with her very first television special, available now on DVD or CD and now your local PBS stations. For the performance presented on the CD, Idina Menzel LIVE: Barefoot at the Symphony, the Tony Award-winning singer and actress steps up alone, with a full symphony to offer her very own special brand of songs. And, as Mrs. Diggs is the proud mother of a small child, two-year-old son, Walker gave her a bit of inspiration. That is… to perform barefoot on stage. On each and every stage during her tour, almost since she started out, Idina Menzel performs barefoot.
It did wonders for the artist to NOT wear heels while performing live. And perform she does! From the opening number, “The Life of the Party” all the way down the wire to the closing of her signature song, “Defying Gravity,” Menzel’s amazing vocal gifts and personality shine through. Here for The Rage Monthly magazine, she proves beyond a doubt, her fireball of talent is still glowing strong.
How are you?
I’m good… I’m in Dallas and about to go live to premiere the PBS special.
Excellent. Well, let’s get going. You’re a busy woman.
This is a two-part question. For starters, performing live barefoot…
No splinters yet?
With all the stops on your tour, is there a clause in your contract about clean and smooth stages?
That’s a good question. (Laughter) No one’s ever asked me that. No clause, I just take the risk. I think they take good care of their theatres and stages so we haven’t had a problem.
Good. Your voice on Idina Menzel LIVE: Barefoot at the Symphony CD sounds as beautiful and powerful as ever. As you have orchestra alone on stage, what have been your initial experiences on working with a full orchestra?
Yeah… it is thrilling. It’s a little daunting and surreal but it’s just a beautiful experience. That’s as much as I can describe really.
Is your conductor, Marvin Hamlisch on every stop with you?
He’s on a considerable amount and has been on a considerable amount. We met a year and a half ago at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Virginia. We were doing a show together. From then on, we purposely made sure our schedules coincided, so we could do this together. We feel pretty good about each other.
Have you ever heard of a Broadway singer by the name of Ella Logan?
I don’t think so. Who’s that?
She starred in Finian’s Rainbow on Broadway in 1947. When you sing “Love for Sale” on your concert CD, her voice reminds me of you.
Huh… thank you. I perform the song, “Look to the Rainbow” on the DVD. It’s not on the CD. So, it’s funny. I thought you were going to talk about that.
Really. No, I haven’t seen the DVD yet and am really looking forward to that.
I’m gonna check her out. Thanks. I love it.
On the CD though, I can sense the excitement. Your story about The Kennedy Center and performing during the tribute to Barbara Streisand, that’s hilarious!
Thank you (laughter). The entire weekend was quite an event. I think the biggest learning experience from it all was about my husband [Taye Diggs] and I and how different we approach being together in those situations.
Yeah and even though I didn’t see you do the song on GLEE, I’m glad you chose the song “Funny Girl.” That song is not performed that much live and it always chokes me up in the emotional qualities.
Thanks and it’s such a beautiful song. I was asked to do it on GLEE and I fell in love with it. The musical director and arranger, Rob Mounsey did a really beautiful job with it. So, we don’t have it on the actual PBS special because of time constraints. I was excited though to be able to keep it on the album.
I also really enjoyed when your husband joined you on stage for the duet of “Where or When.” I bet your husband can do a bad-ass interpretation of Johnny Mathis, if he tried.
Yeah, he can. He likes Johnny Mathis actually. Doesn’t he have a beautiful tone to his voice?
Yes. How did you decide together to pick that song?
It’s just a song that we really loved. We tried not to over think it and find the right thing to do. He had sung that song in his own show that he was working on and did a beautiful job. I said, “That would be fun and let’s do this together…”To play with it on stage as though we were strangers, we really like that kind of music and hopefully one day, we’ll do more of that together. Definitely.
Well, you’ve created a lot of memorable moments on this. I do have to tell you that one of my very favorites on your CD is “Heaven Help My Heart.”
Thank you. It’s such a bombastic show and everything is so big and loud. That song is so tender and beautiful. So, that’s my favorite song from the show.