Idina Menzel: World Tour 2015 at PNC Bank Arts Center
No one tried to plug their cell phones into an outlet on the stage last night at Idina Menzel’s World Tour concert. Maybe that’s because it wasn’t a Broadway house, but a concert venue in New Jersey’s suburbs. But, some might think it was Broadway based on the set list for her solo show at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel Sunday night.
The Tony Award winning star made sure the crowd of mostly adults and teens (and surprisingly just a handful of Frozen fever children) made sure everyone knew she was a Jersey girl, too; mentioning her roots in Somerset, New Brunswick and her brief time at a Marlboro elementary school.
The show started as anyone would have guessed, with Menzel singing “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. The now blonde bombshell was dressed in a black strapless tea-length dress with a black belt cinching her waist with painted on henna-looking gold jewelry. Many whipped out their phones to record her singing the song wondering if Flying By Foy would hoist her up over the audience. Unfortunately, those who thought that were disappointed when the stage wasn’t transformed into the Gershwin Theatre circa 2003.
As soon as the band started playing the first notes of her second song, I instantly knew it was “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” During the vamp, Menzel joked about being a bad dancer and mentioned that she sang the Jule Styne hit for Barbra Streisand at ‘some thing;’ assuming everyone already knew it was for the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008.
Menzel then broke out into “I Stand” from her first album. I admit, it’s one of the few tunes Sunday night I was not familiar with. Meantime, in between numbers someone in the audience yelled out, “I love you,” which Menzel actually responded to with, “I love you, too.” Then someone else shouted something at her and everyone laughed when she said to him, “What? You want to sleep with me?” ( They didn’t.)
There was a medley of Ethel Merman tunes including “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Anything Goes” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” That’s when Menzel finally kicked off her heals (literally) and pranced around the stage barefoot. Seriously. Did anyone else wonder if she would get a splinter, too?
An hour into the show came the first Frozen reference, when Menzel said sometimes she has days when she just doesn’t feel like singing that song. A few non show tunes later, ‘Rent Heads’ went nuts when Menzel started singing “Take Me or Leave Me.” That’s when fans pulled out their homemade signs to call attention to themselves in order to be picked for the famous all female duet. Unfortunately for those in the front row, the opportunity went to Tyler Cicardo from Toms River sitting in the 400 section – the nose bleed seats. Cicardo told me he heard Menzel calls on audience members to sing with her from someone who saw the concert in Atlantic City. As soon as “Take Me or Leave Me” started Cicardo said, “I sprinted up and said I wasn’t going to pass this chance up.” Once their duet was over (which, by the way was outstanding -go see him as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray at the Algonquin Theatre in Manasquan July 17-26) I watched as Cicardo walked all the way back up to his hard to see seats not realizing Menzel would call him back up to sing again! “I am floored. I know I am not a Joanne, but I gave it my best shot,” exclaimed Cicardo.
A few little ones even made their stage debuts during the song, including 8-year-old Adrianna Lisotto from Middletown, who might have been the only one (shockingly) at the concert dressed as Elsa. I don’t think anyone expected her to belt out the Rent lyrics, so Menzel asked Lisotto to sing something else. “Let it Go,” she squealed to which Menzel replied, “I can’t sing that yet.” Frozen (pun intended) with the realization as to what was happening, she broke out into “The Wheels on the Bus.” Lisotto, who as you might expect is a frozen fanatic said, “I was so nervous, it was so awesome.” “Never in a million years would I expect her on stage and singing!” said her mom, Renee.
Once the 20 minute number was over, Menzel then talked about the late Jonathan Larson and how Rent was her first professional show. A beautiful rendition of “No Day But Today” came next.
Menzel concluded with “Always Starting Over” from her latest Broadway show, If/Then followed by the song everyone had been waiting for all night ( Do I even have to name it?) She also sang a new song, ‘Child’ dedicated to her son and finally “Tomorrow” from Annie.
Best part of the night? Adele Dazeem never showed up. Although, I overheard one girl say she thought Kristin Chenoweth would.