Idina Menzel Talks (And Sings!) About Tour Essentials & The Last Time She Was Called ‘Elsa’
The Broadway star brings her 50-city worldwide tour to North America starting Wednesday in Pennsylvania.
Idina Menzel admits she likes a good mini-bar when she’s on tour. “Don’t put me in a hotel that has one of those empty fridges for those people who bring their own food and cook,” she said with a laugh in her recent Facebook Live chat with Billboard, during a break in tour rehearsals in Los Angeles. “Put me in a hotel where the fridge has all these cool snacks. It doesn’t have to be gourmet — just my Peanut M&Ms, some chocolate-covered almonds. I binge at night. I’m a classy chick.”
After opening in Japan, the Broadway star brings her 50-city worldwide tour to North America starting Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and continuing with a hometown show Friday at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. Though always happy to return to her roots, the stop is sure to conjure up reminders of the past — good and bad.
“I’m usually excited [to play in Long Island] and I think it’s going to be one of the best shows, and I get up there and I’m flooded with memories — good, bad, bullies, some chick that was mean to me, family stuff. I get very emotional,” she says. “I remember that I was a little girl, little dreamer, that wanted to do something with her life, and I was able to do it.”
And how. Menzel is the only Tony winner to have also scored a Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hit (“Letting Go” from Frozen). The singer/actress, who co-starred in Lifetime’s remake of Beaches earlier this year, earned her first Tony nomination in 1996 for Rent before winning best actress in a musical for her performance as Elphaba in Wicked in 2004. She received her third nomination in 2014 for If/Then.
Menzel released her fifth album, Idina, last fall and will draw heavily from the personal, intimate set in concert, including performing such songs as “Small World,” “I Do” and “Queen of Swords.” New for this tour will be background singers and “these two beautiful string players that also sing,” she tells Billboard. Plus, “I’m excited to reunite with my other musicians who have played with me for many years at this point,” she says.
But she is most excited about her offstage companion: Her 7-year old son, Walker (with ex-husband Taye Diggs), accompanies her on tour. “Every time my son comes with me, he’s at a different age, so I see these places through a different lens with him,” she says. “We hit every children’s museum and zoo in every major city. I take him everywhere with me, which is hard because on my day off, if he weren’t with me, I would probably sleep the whole day away and watch pay-per-view and rest my voice, but when he’s around…you forge on.”
Staying at home in Los Angeles will be her new fiancé, Aaron Lohr. “He has a regular job, so he can’t just take a plane all over the place and come visit me and be my emotional support,” she laments. The pair moved in together recently and bought a new home.
Unlike many artists who have stage fright before they go onstage, Menzel admits that she sometimes experiences the syndrome during a performance. “I do a number on myself onstage sometimes,” she says. “I get in my head, get very perfectionist, start judging every note that I don’t think was perfect…You can have those nights where the chatter won’t stop in your head, but I try to keep that at bay and call my therapist from the road and I have fun. Most of the time, the music is transcendent for me.”
And when it’s not, there’s always the hotel mini-bar.