‘Cathartic,’ is how Idina Menzel describes performing the anthemic ‘Let It Go’ from Disney’s upcoming animated film, Frozen. With powerful lyrics scribed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Menzel’s soul-searching performance as Queen Elsa proverbially brings the house down at every screening. Thus it seems hard to believe that someone with a voice so strong and the raw emotion required to bring justice to these words can — at times — appear to be demure and not so self-assured.
‘There’s more moments that I remember as a kid of trying to hide my talent and not wanting to be threatening or alienate people from me,’ she recalled at a recent press event held in New York City for the upcoming film. ‘If I was with a bunch of girls in the car listening to the radio, they’d all be singing and I wouldn’t ‘cuz I didn’t want anyone to know that I really could sing because I wanted them to like me and when you’re younger, you don’t want to stand out and that’s the part that I feel like kids have to start to learn when they’re young; that’s the thing that’s going to make you special your whole life. The third grade — the first solo I got in the choir and all the teachers were raving about me, but that was also weird ‘cuz then the kids didn’t like me, you know, but now as an adult you learn to own it. But even so, sometimes I have to remind myself to get up there and kick ass.
Frozen: Film Review
8:00 AM PST 11/3/2013 by Todd McCarthy
The Bottom Line
Disney has loaded on the TLC to make sure this becomes one of its big ones.
Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciaran Hinds, Chris Williams
Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Josh Gad voicestar in Disney’s first widescreen fairy tale since “Sleeping Beauty.”
You can practically see the Broadway musical Frozen is destined to become while watching Disney’s 3D animated princess tale. Shrewdly calculated down the the smallest detail in terms of its appeal factor, this smartly dressed package injects a traditional fairy tale, Hans Christian Andersen‘s The Snow Queen, with enough contemporary attitudes and female empowerment touches to please both little girls and their moms. Energetic, humorous and not too cloying, as well as the first Hollywood film in many years to warn of global cooling rather than warming, this tuneful toon upgrades what has been a lackluster year for big studio animated fare and, beginning with its Thanksgiving opening, should live up to box-office expectations as one of the studio’s hoped-for holiday-spanning blockbusters.
As an added bonus, Frozen is fronted by one of the wittiest and most inventive animated shorts in a long time, Lauren MacMullan‘s Get A Horse! debuted to rave responses at the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day weekend preceding the screenings of Gravity, Horse begins as an early black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoon but then bursts its boundaries into color and 3D in marvelously antic ways that call to mind the stepping-off-the-screen techniques of Buster Keaton‘s Sherlock Jr. and Woody Allen‘s The Purple Rose of Cairo. It’s a total winner.
Broadway star Idina Menzel doesn’t have a long list of dream roles she hopes to play some day.
“I really think that I want those roles that haven’t been written yet,” she said in a telephone interview. “I really want to originate roles. I’ve had so much success with that process, and I love it very much — just having the privilege of being with the writers, with the creative team, in the privacy of their home while they’re working and being given that window into what they’re doing. It’s a beautiful thing for me, and to watch it unfold is very rewarding.”
She’s intimately familiar with all of that. She was involved early on in both “Rent” and “Wicked,” creating the roles of self-involved performance artist Maureen Johnson in the former and the powerful, misunderstood enchantress Elphaba in the latter. She was nominated for a Tony for “Rent,” and won for “Wicked.” (more…)
Gay men wish they could be Idina Menzel for two reasons: First, she’s got a killer voice, and acting chops to match — notable on Glee, in Rent and her Tony Award-winning role in Wicked, where she got to defy gravity. Second, she’s married to breathtaking heartthrob Taye Diggs — we so want to be able to come home to him.
And Menzel knows it. Though sometimes there’s a twist that surprises even her.
“Lately, when we’ve been stopped on the street together, people will come up to him and say, ‘I love you but I love your wife even more.’ Often that’s even the boys.”
That’s the mark of a diva: Even a gay guy would put Taye Diggs second to praise you.
It’s not something that happens overnight. Menzel was in her early 20s when she first came to prominence on the surprise Broadway hit Rent, which won the
Pulitzer and the Tony and became a phenomenon. But after that, she met with hardship.
“My career has ebbed and flowed,” she admits. “After I left Rent, I did an album that did not sell well. I got dropped from my record label; I was the third replacement on Aida when I entered it.” She wondered if lightning would strike twice. (more…)
Idina Menzel grew up in New York and always loved to sing As Idina got older, she knew that music was her passion and she wanted to perform on Broadway someday. Her mom encouraged her to pursue her education first and not perform professionally as a child. “She wanted me to go to school and go to college. Then after that I could figure out what I wanted to do.” She figured out that the only thing she wanted to do was to be onstage. She never had a back-up plan.
Recently, Idina took time out of her busy tour and her busy life to catch up with Broadway World and share with us how she balances it all. Idina has been travelling with her son for the first time and is busy trying to figure out how to do it all. “I don’t feel like I’m doing a great job. (As) moms, we just do it. There is a lot of good planning and good help.” Her husband, Taye Diggs is very supportive and helps out a lot. She said that it’s great that she is getting to do so many things that she loves which is very important to her. (more…)
Dallas — It would be difficult for Idina Menzel to top the two major Broadway experiences of her life so far: originating the role of Maureen in the groundbreaking musical Rent, and then originating Elphaba, and winning the Tony, in the mega-hit Wicked. But that won’t keep her from trying.
Since Rent, she has crafted a solid recording and concert career, including an early album of songs that she wrote. She has also become a reoccuring character on the TV show Glee, playing Rachel Berry’s mother.
That’s a role she has also taken on in real life, with her now two-and-a-half year old son with husband and actor Taye Diggs, who she met in doing Rent.
She’s currently touring, doing 25 concerts in 30 days, including a stop in Dallas at the Music Hall at Fair Park on Wednesday, presented by Dallas Pops. She has her own musicians and then adds more in each city to be accompanied by a 26-piece orchestra. You can count on showtunes (including material from Wicked and Rent) and some pop material—on her last live album, Barefoot at the Symphony, there’s a cover of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face, which she sang on Glee.
We talked to her about the concert, touring with her son, the influence of Glee and the memory of Rent creator Jonathan Larson. At the end of this interview, you’ll find instructions for a ticket giveaway to the Dallas concert.
TheaterJones: What songs can we expect at your concert? (more…)
For those of us who know Idina Menzel only from her star-making performances in Broadway’s “Rent” and “Wicked,” her Sunday night Smith Center concert was a revelation. We expected the electrifying belt in songs such as “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “Defying Gravity,” but who knew she is an artist of extraordinary depth?
Her two-hour presentation (backed by about two dozen onstage musicians from Las Vegas and New York) included a lot of personal stories, including a criticism she once received as a student at New York University. She had begun singing for her teacher Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” but got out only a few bars before he stopped her.
“Do you have any idea where this woman is coming from?” he asked. “She lives on the street. She doesn’t know where her next meal is coming from. She’s desperate.” It was apparently an epiphany for Menzel. She proved how well she learned that lesson by interpreting the number with the skill of a veteran actress.
Idina Menzel recently performed at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas and continues to perform throughout the United States. From the moment she walked out onstage, you knew Idina’s concert was going to be different from any other concert. As Idina walked across the stage, it was apparent that she had no shoes on and was very comfortable on the stage. She immediately connected with the audience. Suddenly you felt as if you were with an intimate group of friends listening to a private performance. Idina sang songs from Rent and Wicked as well as Barbara Streisand songs and even U2. And her version of “Both Sides Now” made famous by Joni Mitchell was beyond words.
What one can take away from the evening that made it a one-of-a-kind event was the way Idina seemed to make every audience member feel individual and included. The most remarkable part of the connection came when Idina came out into the audience and asked for someone to help her sing, “Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent. Girls from the audience leapt from their seats and rushed towards Idina. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, Idina let them come. She invited a handful to go to the stage and she then found one young man to sing with her as well.
The young man was Dennis Perez. In speaking to Dennis after the show, he told me, “I was completely shocked when she pulled me into the center aisle to sing. It was a once in a lifetime dream come true. I’ve been looking up to Idina for 6 years now and to be able to perform with one of my idols was mind blowing!”
One of the young ladies invited onstage was Seeley Stephens. I caught up with Seeley and asked her about her experience. Seeley said, “It has been one of my biggest goals in life to sing on stage with Idina Menzel, so when I was waiting there to sing, I could feel my dream coming true, and I couldn’t wait to sing for her. When I sang, I had that same excitement and happiness, but I also had the disbelief that it was actually happening to me. When I got her autograph after the show, she told me I sounded great on stage. That one small comment meant more to me than she will ever know, and I will never forget that night as long as I live.”
Idina made a difference in her life and gave her the confidence she needed. Seeley also shared with me that is has been her dream since she was very young to sing on the Broadway stage. “I love to sing more than anything in the world and adding dancing and acting to that on Broadway is all I want to do with my life. I am actually auditioning for American Idol (in San Antonio) to start on my journey that I hope will land me on the Broadway stage in the future.” (more…)