Taye Diggs: Wife Was a “Warrior” During Natural Childbirth

Taye Diggs: Wife Was a "Warrior" During Natural ChildbirthCredit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.


Private Practice star Taye Diggs didn’t freak out when wife Idina Menzel went into labor.

“There was something going on that morning, so we knew this is going to be a special day,” he says in an interview on the Ellen DeGeneres Show (airing Thursday). “She said, ‘Go off to work, and if I need you, I will call you.'” So I went off to work. I got that call.

“In the movies and on TV, you always hear everyone’s rushing, but everyone is telling me when it actually happens, there is no need to rush. There is no need to speed,” Diggs, 38, continues. “So on the way home, I was constantly telling myself, ‘Relax, relax, be cool.'”

When he got home, he took her to the hospital. That’s when “the labor really starts to kick in,” he says.

Initially, he says he planned to be by her side along with the mid-wife. But as he watched Menzel’s face when the first pain hit, Diggs says, “I was like, “OK, I’m just going to be in this other room….'”

Menzel, 38, opted for a natural birth.

“No drugs,” Diggs says. “She is a warrior.”

He adds that she was in labor for seven or eight hours – and it was emotional.

“I was holding her hands and cheering her on,” he says. “I said I would look two times. I would look when the baby was crowning, and I wanted to look right when [son] Walker came out. And then when he came out, all the sudden it was like my inner gangster came out. I was like, ‘Yeah baby, that’s what I’m talkin’ about, that’s my boy!'”

The couple – who wed in January 2003 – welcomed their son Sept. 2.

“It was crazy,” Diggs says of his son’s birth. “I couldn’t control myself. It was like the Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, everything wrapped up into one.”


US magazine – October 15, 2009

Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel Are Expecting

Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel Are Expecting | Taye Diggs

Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs

Ryan Miller/Getty


Talk about some powerhouse pipes.

Broadway belters Taye Diggs, 38, and Idina Menzel, 37, are expecting their first baby, his rep confirms to PEOPLE.

The longtime couple – who met on the 1996 Broadway production of Rent and married in January 2003 – will welcome their new arrival later this year.

Diggs costars on the ABC drama Private Practice and Menzel won a Tony Award for her turn in the 2003 Broadway production of the musical Wicked.

People – March 31, 2009

Idina Menzel: Back on the Stand

Idina Menzel<br />
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Idina Menzel
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)

It’s been seven years since Idina Menzel won the Tony Award for her work as Elphaba in Wicked, and while the actress hasn’t been officially back on Broadway since then, she’s been keeping very busy. Two years ago, she released her album, I Stand; nine months ago, she gave birth to her son, Walker (whose daddy is Menzel’s husband, actor Taye Diggs); and most recently, she played teacher Shelby Corcoran on FOX’s hit series Glee. Now, Menzel is hitting the road on a six-month concert tour, which stops next at Dallas’ Meyerson Symphony Hall on June 17 and Philadelphia’s Mann Center for the Arts on June 24. TheaterMania recently spoke to Menzel about her life and work.

THEATERMANIA: You presented at this year’s Tony Awards on Sunday night. Did that bring back memories of your own Tony-winning night?
IDINA MENZEL: Sure, but more than memories, it makes me want to get back to Broadway soon. I’m just looking for the right project.

TM: I vote for you to make your return in the 2012 revival ofFunny Girl
IM: I may have missed my opportunity, but thank you, that’s a compliment. In any case, those are very big shoes to fill.

TM: What can you tell us about your upcoming tour?
IM: These concerts are with symphonies all over the country, and I’m very excited to sing with them. I usually sing with a small rock-band. This time, the music is being revisited, and there are all new arrangements. Each show, each conductor, each song has a new rhythm. There will be staples from shows like Wicked and others that are from more obscure shows or from other cast albums. And there are brand new songs too.


A Conversation with Idina

Idina Menzel’s season of loveBy Kathleen DoaneBroadway superstar and Tony Award winner, Idina Menzel, has had a busy year: a recurring role on the hit TV series, Glee; moving to a new house; and learning the ropes of motherhood. This month, another first: her Cincinnati Pops debut. I caught up with Menzel at home in Los Angeles where she’d spent the morning watching 1-year-old son, Walker, defy gravity by running laps around the house.

You’re a songwriter as well as a singer. Will we be hearing any of your own works on these concerts? Yes, I’ve had two of my songs orchestrated, which is so fun for me. They’re songs that I’ve lived with a long time, and it’s nice to hear them blossom into this glorious sound with all the musicians.

Was songwriting something you tried your hand at early on? I’ve written songs since I was a teenager. It’s part of who I am.

You started singing at weddings and bar mitzvahs when you were a teen. What is the most outrageous thing that ever happened during one of those gigs? I was singing on the bandstand at a wedding when someone on the dance floor had a heart attack. My bandleader insisted that I keep singing but then the bride came up and began screaming at me for being insensitive. I thought, I’m going to band hell for this.

Singing in front of a symphony orchestra is so different than being accompanied by a pit orchestra in a show. What is it like to have all that sound coming at you from behind?It’s hard to put into words. It’s thrilling. It’s glorious and very emotional for me.  I’m used to having the conductor in front of me, so it’s different in that way. Because my back is to him, it’s almost like a telepathic experience.The mediums of TV, film, and stage certainly have a lot of common ground, but as a performer you have to make adjustments when you go from one to another? Is there one medium that requires the most from you as a performer? I think it’s always going to be doing an eight-shows-a-week musical.  Whether it’s Wicked or some of the other shows I’ve done that audiences might not be as familiar with, it’s always such an emotionally charged and taxing experience as well as vocally challenging.

How do you keep yourself in shape and energized? It’s really about learning how to pace myself.  I’ve always been pretty ritualistic about my vocal warm-up, which I finish half an hour or 40 minutes before a show. Then I steam and warm up some more in the shower. No alcohol when I’m performing. Getting enough sleep is important, although now that I have a child, that’s gone out the window. But I have to be honest, it’s kind of liberating, because my priorities have changed. I think my singing and attitude are actually better. I’ve been enjoying everything more.

Let’s talk about you and your husband Taye Diggs’ son, Walker. He just started walking without holding on to something. He and my mom will be with me in Cincinnati.

Is your house in New York or Los Angeles? Because of my husband’s TV show [Diggs plays Dr. Sam Bennett on ABC’s Private Practice], we finally caved and bought a house on the West Coast. It’s an adjustment because I’m a lifelong New Yorker, but I’m trying to embrace it because with the baby, we now have some grass, and good weather, and a nearby park to take him to.

Do you and Taye sing to Walker? We sing to him ad nauseam. When he starts talking, he’s probably going to tell us to shut up.

Does he have a favorite song? Well, it changes all the time. We have a bunch of original tunes we compose on the spot, but one of his favorites used to be “You Are My Sunshine.” Right now, it’s “The Wheels on the Bus.”

I was lucky enough to see you and Taye in the original Off-Broadway production of Rent in early 1996. Did you realize then what a groundbreaking show you were a part of? No. In rehearsal, we knew there was a great bond happening with the cast and that we were communicating something special, but we had no idea what the magnitude of the show would be. It wasn’t until [playwright/composer] Jonathan [Larson] passed away [the day before opening night] that everything got surreal. I learned a lot of amazing life lessons because of that experience. When you’re young and have that kind of success, you can loose sight of what’s important. If anything good came out of it, it taught us all what’s important.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about your role as rival choir director, Shelby Corcoran, on Glee, another groundbreaking show you are a part of.  In a world where you already have a pretty high profile, has it changed your life? To be honest, it might sell a few more tickets, but I’m not a regular on the show. I love the show because it celebrates musical theater people, but as for changing my life, not really. My son has changed my life.

One final question: Do you think you and Glee’s Lea Michele look alike? When you see us together, I think it’s more the essence than looking that much alike. We’ve both got that Jewish-Italian-singing thing going on. Besides, she’s got smaller boobs and weighs a lot less than I do.

See firsthand why Idina Menzel has become one of the most celebrated Broadway voices to come along in decades. Menzel returns to the Cincinnati Pops for the second time in less than a year to open the Orchestra’s summer season at Riverbend under conductor Matthew Kraemer. Menzel, who originated the role of Maureen in Rent and won a Tony for her portrayal of Elphaba in Wicked, acquired even more fans last year when she joined the cast of TV’s blockbuster hit, Glee. Menzel will perform a variety of pop, musical theatre favorites and songs from her latest album, I Stand. The performance begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25 at Riverbend Music Center. Tickets start at $25. Box office and information: (513) 381-3300.

Kathleen Doane – August 2010; reposted June 2011

Tony winner Idina Menzel, Cleveland Orchestra to put on show blending genres

Most orchestras don’t have the distinction of rocking out to Lady Gaga tunes. But that’s exactly what the Cleveland Orchestra will do Saturday when Broadway powerhouse Idina Menzel makes her debut at Blossom.

Broadway star Idina Menzel will appear with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival opening and benefit for Center for Future Audiences on July 2.

The gala benefit concert will launch the orchestra’s Center for Future Audiences, which aims to bring more people — especially youth — to its music. Menzel’s star power crosses pop culture genres, from her iconic roles as Elphaba in Wicked and Maureen in Rent to her diva appearances as vocal coach Shelby Corcoran on the hit Fox show Glee.

Gleeks will be happy to hear that Menzel will sing two songs from Glee — Gaga’s Poker Face and Funny Girl. Her program will run the spectrum of her career, with some of her favorite Broadway tunes, including songs from roles she originated, pop songs and tunes from her third solo album, I Stand.

In a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, the raven-haired power balladeer talked about her efforts to balance her busy career with family life, including actor husband Taye Diggs and their son Walker, who will turn 2 in September. The little tyke had just run through the room with a big mylar ladybug balloon, and Menzel got him situated with his nanny outside.

”I’m going to go in the other room and talk to my friend on the phone and then we can play,” she told Walker.

The family had recently returned from a vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Menzel had to hit the ground running as she jumps back into her orchestral tour. It’s a heavy summer schedule with performances most weekends, including a show in Cincinnati this weekend and then the one at Blossom.

”I don’t feel well-rested,” Menzel confided. ”I had a great vacation and then you come walk in the door and all the same feelings come over you. . . . Being able to hold onto that calm is literally impossible.”

Menzel has been doing orchestral appearances throughout the country intermittently in the last year, which allows her to stay home all week with her son, tuck him in on Friday nights, jump on a redeye and arrive at her destination about 7 a.m. Saturday. She sleeps until about 1 p.m., showers, attends rehearsal and sound check, eats dinner, performs, has ”a great adrenaline rush with the audience” and then catches an early flight back to L.A. the next morning.


Role Playing: Idina Menzel Opens Up About Acting, Singing, and Full-Time Motherhood

Tony Award winner Idina Menzel has had quite a diverse career, from the stage, to films and music. A powerhouse of talent, she constantly amazes audiences with her strong, emotional performances. Menzel broke into the spotlight playing the role of Maureen, a bisexual performance artist, in the origional production of Rent. She has since starred in AIDA and The Vagina Monologues, and originated the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the smash-hit Wicked.

In film, Menzel has appeared opposite Susan Sarandon, Patrick Dempsey and Amy Adams in Disney’s Enchanted, as well as co-starred in Robert Towne’s Ask the Dust, opposite Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell. Most recently, she joined the cast of Glee, playing the coach of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline. A skillful songwriter, Menzel also writes and performs her own music. Her first album, I Stand, was released in 2007.

Now, amidst a series of one-night-only concerts across the US, Menzel is completing a new album, as well as focusing on her newest–and some would say most important–role as a mother to her two-year-old son Walker. Dish caught up with her just prior to her performance at Nashville’s world famous Schermerhorn Symphony Center to chat about her career and life as a working mother.

Dish: The question about your career I hear echoed most from fans is when are you going to release a follow-up album to 2007’s I Stand?

 Idina Menzel: I am in the studio all the time working on new stuff and I’m really just trying to decide if the next one will be a live album that reflects the shows that I’ve been doing or if it will be original music. I’m sort of experimenting right now while I am in this sort of transitional phase, but I have all the materials sitting around. It’s just a matter of choosing what I want to put out there. Believe me, I am ready for a new one to be out.

D: Your shows have been getting rave reviews all across the country. Why do you think people are resonating so much with your performances?

IM: The thing I am most proud of is that I am maintaining a level of intimacy with audiences in these larger venues, even though there is a huge orchestra behind me. I don’t think it’s an easy thing to do, and I spent a lot of time working on it. I include some of the staples of the Broadway shows I have been in–some standards and some originals–but my biggest focus is not losing my connection with the audience. Since the shows have started getting bigger I have made it a point to share some great stories and connect the music with that dialogue. Hopefully when people leave the show they will feel like they have gotten to know me in a real way.

D: Even before your turn on Glee, you had an incredibly dedicated fan base that you have maintained a real closeness to, one that many of your peers have not. To what do you attribute your massive success in garnering and keeping fans?


Glee’s Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs’ Son Is a Little Music Man, Too!


Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs
Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Alzheimer’s Association

Is it any wonder that Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs son, Walker, has the gift of song and dance?

Diggs told me in March that the little one was already taking music lessons at 17 months. “He’s definitely singing a lot more—and a lot of times in tune, I have to say,” Menzel told me earlier today. “But the biggest thing though is dancing. I know all little kids dance, but it’s pretty awesome dancing.”

Walker isn’t even two yet. That happens on Sept. 2. So what do mom and dad have planned for the big day?

Read on to find out…


Idina Menzel: ‘When I listen to Joni Mitchell, I want to quit singing’

Interview by Adam Jacques

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Menzel says: 'Glee is ground-breaking in how it deals with sexuality' Getty Images

Menzel says: ‘Glee is ground-breaking in how it deals with sexuality’

My first job on broadway, in ‘rent’, was life-changing I’d been a wedding singer through college, but after a few years of doing my best renditions of jazz standards to clinking glasses and the sound of forks on salad, I thought, “Oh God, if this is all I do, I’ll never be able to live with myself.”

Most wedding singers have seen a heart attack on the dance floor Once I saw a guest collapse when I was on stage. I wasn’t sure how to handle it, so I looked to the band leader and said to him, “Let’s stop!” But he said, “No, the band always plays on.” The bride came over and screamed at us. I felt weirded out by that.

‘Glee’ is ground-breaking in how it deals with sexuality [Menzel plays the lead character Rachel’s biological mother.] For many young people, sexuality is a taboo, so I love how the show portrays characters such as Kurt Hummel. Viewers look up to him and it doesn’t matter that he’s gay.

The more successful I get, the more terrified I become as I have more to lose People have these incredible expectations. So instead of being inspired by, say, Joni Mitchell’s music, I look at it and say to myself, “I’m going to quit – why would I think of writing or performing after listening to that?” It’s why you go to therapy.

My two-year old son is a great dancer He’s so jubilant about it and has his own little choreography: he does back-steps, side-steps, reach-ups… He loves Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and Bruno Mars. We loop them over and over.

Being a mother has made me a better artist I used to take 40 minutes to warm up before going on stage. If you want to spend time with your child as well as having a career, you have to get up there even if your head’s a mess. It’s made me more relaxed, and I’m having some of my best shows.

It’s been a dream of mine to run my own summer camp I went to one as a kid, and I put on productions, and got lots of confidence. Camp Broader Way [set up by Menzel with her husband] is for disadvantaged people who wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to express themselves through the arts.

Idina Menzel, 40, is an actress and singer. For more information on her arts charity, visit abroaderway.org



The Independent – Aug 28, 2011

‘Wicked,’ ‘Rent’ star Idina Menzel to sing at the Bushnell

Idina Menzel lives to perform.

The Tony Award-winning actress, best known for her Broadway roles of Elphaba in “Wicked” and Maureen Johnson in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Rent”, will perform with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra on Friday at the Bushnell in Hartford.

“I love singing live. It’s what makes me tick,” Menzel said in a telephone interview.
“It’s a thrilling experience performing with an orchestra. Any experience to perform is one worth taking.”

“Almost a year ago I decided to go out with symphonies. It allows me to explore my music,” she added.

Menzel says the music featured in the special one-night concert will be varied.

“There will be lots of standards, songs from shows I’ve been in, a few songs from my albums, it will be eclectic.”

“I try to get a lot of sleep. I do my vocal exercises. I have to be sure I’m well-prepared,” Menzel said of her pre-tour preparation.


Interview: Idina Menzel

By Paul Lester, September 26, 2008

Acting, singing, comedy – Idina Menzel can do it all, and that includes severe self-doubt. It has a lot to do with her parents.

Idina Menzel is one of the biggest names in musical theatre, having appeared in Rent on Broadway and Wicked in the West End, as well as a film actress, starring most recently in Disney fantasy, Enchanted. She is also a recording artist, her latest, mostly self-penned album, I Stand, being produced by Glen Ballard, the man who helped Alanis Morissette sell 16 million copies of Jagged Little Pill.

So which is the real Idina Menzel – the nice Jewish girl from Long Island: the turbo-lunged diva singing flawless power ballads in musicals, or the “edgy little rocker” (her words) whose gritty performances on I Stand put her more in the Sheryl Crow category of raunchy female singer-songwriters? It turns out the answer could be all of them because Menzel fancies herself as a bit of a Renaissance woman.