Idina Menzel to Star in New Stage Musical ‘Redwood’

Huge news! Per Variety, Idina Menzel will star in ‘Redwood,’ a new musical which will premiere as the final production of La Jolla Playhouse’s 2023-2024 season! La Jolla Playhouse revealed the following description:

Idina plays Jesse, a successful businesswoman, mother and wife. She seems to have it all, but inside, her heart is broken. Finding herself at a turning point, Jesse leaves everyone and everything behind, gets in her car and drives… and drives. Thousands of miles later, she hits the ancient forests of Northern California, where a chance meeting and a leap of faith change her life forever. In the presence of the magnificent, towering redwoods, Jesse finds strange and powerful connections, an unexpected sense of community, and a chance at healing.

Idina first began developing the musical almost 20 years ago when she approached Tina Landau about collaborating. It was initially conceived as a bio-musical about Julia Butterfly Hill, an environmental activist famous for living in a redwood for more than two years in the late ‘90s to prevent loggers from cutting it down. Tina wrote the book and will also direct.

“I subscribe to this feeling very often in my life of wanting to just escape,” Menzel told Variety in a joint interview with Landau on Wednesday. “I’m more of a recluse than people think I am… I definitely grapple with that a lot in my life, just like, ‘Can I just put it all down and leave and do something different?’”

With music by Kate Diaz and lyrics by Diaz and Landau, Menzel said, “What’s so exciting working with Tina is that she definitely knows how — and she’s guiding Kate in this as well — to write for me, but also how to challenge me and to put me in places that are not formulaic or not my typical go-to. It’s opening my vernacular and forcing me to find new colors and places in my voice that I think are just fun, and have different emotional connections for me to the character and hopefully open up different chakras, if you will, for other people when they’re listening.”

In some aspects, ‘Redwood’ will be an interactive experience for the audience. “The design is not really a set as so much as it’s going to be making use of some really exciting, cutting-edge multimedia interactive technology that’s never been used in the American musical theater before,” Landau said. She also explained that it was quarantine in the early days of the pandemic that finally gave her the time to sit down to concentrate and work on writing the show.

It all sounds very exciting! You’ll have lots of time to plan a trip because the show will premiere in February 2024. Stay tuned for more info!

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