Idina Menzel at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
The lights go down and Idina appears onstage with two drumsticks crossed above her head, starting the intro to Queen of Swords. It feels like the entire audience is on first name terms with Idina as soon as she starts to speak, shading her eyes to look out into the audience and tell the Sony Centre “I’ve missed you Toronto”.
Early in the show Idina has a good friend join her for Seasons of Love, Anthony Rapp, her former Rent co-star, comes cantering down the aisle and is greeted with a huge roar and applause from the audience. The show is very Broadway, very Disney, with tracks from Rent, Wicked and Frozen as well as a generous helping from her latest album idina., an album that fits easily with the musical numbers.
An on-the-nose wind machine kicks in for Wind Beneath My Wings, demonstrating (if you haven’t realised already) that this show is clearly all about embracing the sentimental joy of musicals. Defying Gravity follows, and is capped off with I Do – another track from idina. which concludes with some dramatic ribbon dancing – it’s more impressive than it sounds. There’s a tenacity to Idina’s movements that makes you believe she’s still feeling everything in the song about a struggling marriage.
Idina’s voice is as spectacular as you’d hope, holding impressively long and high notes and treating us to an acapella that, although quiet without a mic, is a hell of a thing to pull off. She’s playful with the crowd, commenting with pleasure that Toronto is rowdier than expected, serenading the stage security and jokingly thanking them for being so serious and saving her from being bum-rushed by one of the many callers from the audience.
Let It Go is teased towards the end of the set with ‘a song about sisters’, an arrangement of The Beatles’ Dear Prudence combined with Do You Want to Build a Snowman. For the finale of Let It Go, Idina asks for any kids below a certain height to come down and help her sing the ending, becoming particularly attached to a dapper-dressed young man named Oliver who’s favourite showtunes are from Wicked and a tiny girl called Naomi who is too shy to speak but says Anna is her favourite in frozen, to Idina’s charming mock-chagrin.
I’m sure a more seasoned reviewer would have some eyes to roll for all the schmaltzy lyrics about love, but I found it all absolutely delightful. I didn’t expect it, but Idina completely won me over.
1.Queen of Swords
3.Seasons of Love (with Anthony Rapp)
4.Don’t Rain on My Parade
7.I’m Not That Girl
9.Wind Beneath My Wings
12.Bridge Over Troubled Water
14.No Day but Today
15.Dear Prudence/Do You Want to Build a Snowman
17.Let It Go
18.Every Time We Say Goodbye
19.I See You