Idina Menzel brings Broadway sound to Foxwoods Resort Casino for opening night of North American tour
Tony-Award winning singer and actress Idina Menzel kicked off the first night of the North American leg of her world tour on Friday at the Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino before a full house.
Menzel is best known for her portrayal of Maureen Johnson in the Broadway musical “RENT,” Elphaba in the Broadway musical “Wicked,” Shelby Corcoran in the musical TV series “Glee” and most recently voicing Elsa the ice queen in Disney’s animated “Frozen.”
Her extensive stage and screen experience translates very well to her live performance, captivating the audience with heartfelt behind-the-scenes tidbits from her various productions, and leaving them breathless with note-for-note live adaptations of a number of hits from her career.
Taking the grand stage to a wild applause just after 8 p.m, she began her set with “Queen of Swords”, a cut off of her latest album. The song originally debuted just one week after announcing her album, in a Facebook Live video with the campers at her A Broader Way all girls theater camp located in the Berkshires. In her live adaptation, she takes to a pair of massive tom drums to keep the beat with her band.
After moving on to “Small World” the leading track off of the same album, she takes the audience back to her humble beginnings with “Seasons of Love” from “RENT,” her first job in the industry. The song is originally performed by the entire cast in the musical, and was performed in the beginning of opening night for the musical as an homage to composer Jonathan Larson, who passed away tragically the night before the opening and never had a chance to see the show open to the public. She would pay her own homage to Larson later in the show, dedicating “No Day But Today”, also from “RENT,” to him stating that if it without him, she wouldn’t be where she is today.
In fact, throughout her performance, Menzel took several moments to honor those who influenced her, including a cover of “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from the 1964 musical “Funny Girl,” originally performed by Barbara Streisand, and “Wind Beneath My Wings” originally recorded by Roger Whittaker in 1982, but Menzel’s live version most strikingly mimics the most popular recording of the song by Bette Midler.
At times the moments were more subtle, while performing “Cake” off her most recent album, a song with reggae and calypso roots, things took a bit of a harder and more blues driven turn, with the song slowly transforming into an energetic cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” Later in her performance, a moving cover of “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles slowly merged into “Do You Want To Build A Snowman”, a number from the hit Pixar motion picture “Frozen.”
Saving arguably one of her biggest hits for last, the audience was perfectly silent as she closed out the evening by cutting her microphone out and singing “For Good” from Wicked with no support from the house sound system, followed by “Let It Go”, her leading song from Frozen with support from her band. She took a moment to call all of the children from the audience up onto the stage with her to help her sing it, each child getting a brief moment with the microphone to literally let it go, and sing the chorus to the crowd. One little girl even dressed up as Elphaba, Menzel’s character from “Wicked.”
“And what’s your name?” she said to the little girl, “Elphaba!” she delightfully replied without skipping a beat, both the crowd and Menzel erupting in laughter. She responded, “Oh look at you, you’re a little method actor!” the crowd following with applause.
Menzel continues her tour of North America on Saturday evening at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston, continuing on for just over 35 more shows, where the tour will close out on Sept. 3, in Phoenix, Arizona.