Idina-Here: The Premiere Idina Menzel Resource

Idina Menzel delivers a stunning season opening set at L.A.’s Greek Theatre

From the moment she stepped on stage, Idina Menzel had captured the unwavering attention of her adoring fans Friday night at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.

The 45-year-old singer-songwriter, actress and Tony award-winning Broadway star offered a stunning set to kick off the 2017 Greek Theatre concert season. There was a chill in the air and the large, spectacularly bright yellowish moon peeked between the giant trees surrounding the outdoor concert venue as the crowd roared along to some of her biggest hits.

Menzel pulled a lot from her eponymous fifth studio album, which was released last September, as well. She came out swinging with the more poppy and upbeat “Queen of Swords” and transitioned into the lighter, “Small World.” As “Seasons of Love,” from her very first Broadway musical, “Rent,” cued up, the fans cheered and Menzel cracked a smile, flawlessly delivering the cut while obviously enjoying the excited audience sing-a-long. She just nailed this seemingly impossible high note, one that patrons in my section failed at miserably. “You’re good, you’re very good,” she told the crowd afterward, clearly just being polite.

She strutted and joked her way through a cover of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl,” offering just a little bit of “The Way We Were” in the middle. Menzel was also very personable throughout the evening, feeling very comfortable on stage and sharing bits of her biting, self-deprecating sense of humor and occasionally dropping a hard f-bomb.

“I mean, I have all these little fans that are wearing blue dresses and sequins,” she said, acknowledging the few dozen children in the house, undoubtedly fans of her work in the Disney film “Frozen.” “But there’s an occasional 50-year-old gay man who I believe wants me to exercise my sassy diva self, who knows I’m a Long Island girl from a Jewish family and I’m in my 40s.”

She also wasn’t afraid to get a little bit personal. Before one of the biggest, most fun moments in the set with her rockin’ song, “Cake,” Menzel said she wrote it because she was in love and she will soon be getting married to actor Aaron Lohr.

“I said to my guy, ‘Are you sure you wanna marry me because I have a lot of issues,’” she shared with a laugh.  “I’m very sensitive, I’m very emotional, I’m an artist … I love him so much because he said ‘I can handle you, honey. It’s all good, you’re cake.’”

The big bass and guitar sounds in “Cake” lent itself right into a snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” a huge song which Menzel tackled ferociously, at one point getting on her knees in front of her guitarist and whipping her hair back and forth, dancing until she was left breathless.

Another big moment came as Menzel sang her version of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” made famous by Bette Midller in the 1988 film “Beaches.” As the crowd sang along to the familiar track, it transitioned into “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked,” a mighty number that earned Menzel a standing ovation.

She and her backup singer played well off of each other during a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” and before launching into “No Day But Today” from “Rent,” she sat on the edge of the stage and shared the story of how on the first night of the production, creator Jonathan Larson died suddenly on Jan. 25, 1996.

“It was a sad and complicated time,” she said, though it taught her to stay present and not take things for granted. It was a beautiful moment that Menzel was clearly soaking in, throwing the mic to the audience for the chorus.

To the delight of the young fans in the crowd, Menzel had mixed a cover of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” in with her “Frozen” hit “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman.”  When she started into the “Wicked” song, “For Good,” the crowd fell silent. The a cappella delivery left this audience speechless, listening intently to each and every word before erupting in applause upon completion.

Before the encore, where she sang her hauntingly beautiful single, “I See You,” Menzel invited up the kids in the audience to help her out on her most well-known song, “Let It Go” from “Frozen.”  While some of the kids were clearly on their own path to Broadway, belting out lyrics without being shy in the slightest, others cowered and froze with fear as the microphone swung their way.

It was an adorable moment as Menzel, a mother herself, got down on their level and sang the chorus several times. “We’ll keep working on it all night long, until it’s in their dreams like it is mine,” she said to the kids about singing it to their parents, joking that they were probably sick of hearing it at home.

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