Idina Menzel proves she’s more than a Disney queen with range and style
Idina Menzel is a working mother with a unique work life.
In the past 10 weeks, the Broadway star and voice of Elsa in “Frozen” toured nine countries and performed 46 concerts. Through the entire trek, Menzel’s 5-year-old son Walker Nathaniel Diggs has been with her.
“It’s been hard but rewarding,” Menzel said just shy of midnight on Wednesday — her only window for interviews comes post-show (and post-kiddie bedtime).
“We started out in Korea and then did Japan and the Philippines,” she said. “It’s been wonderful to show him the world. But I made my setlist really demanding. I don’t leave myself much room to nap or for getting a cold.”
“Frozen” and the global phenomenon of “Let It Go” made Menzel a household name — unless you’re John Travolta, who famously called her Adele Dazeem at the 2014 Oscars. But the 44-year-old has been singing, acting and originating parts for 20 years. She scored a Tony nomination in 1996 for her work in “Rent”; eight years later, she took home the statue for playing Elphaba in “Wicked.”
Her musical theater roots show up in her setlist — expect numbers from “Wicked,” “Rent” and Broadway’s golden age. But she has spiked her show with a few unexpected turns.
“I do Ethel Merman and I do Radiohead,” she said. “As a teenager, I was a singer in a wedding band, so we had to have a repertoire of hundreds of songs. Soul, rock, pop, alternative music, we had to do it all. I may be a Disney princess or queen, but I’m not going to deny any side of my musical self.”
In her 20s, the singer tried to make the transition from theater to rock ’n’ roll. She released an album that chased Alanis Morissette’s style, with a dash more funk and soul. 1998’s “Still I Can’t Be Still” flopped.
“Finding the perfect balance between the rock world and the theater world was tough,” she said. “For rock producers, working with a Broadway singer was taboo. I struggled for a while, but Broadway always welcomed me back with open arms.”
Menzel won’t go back to concentrating on her harder ’90s sound. But she loves that she can slip edgier material into her set.
After her epic summer on the road, Menzel deserves a breather. She’s not going to get much of one.
“I have a couple weeks off, and then I’m helping my most recent Broadway show, “If/Then,” get started on a national tour,” she said. “Oh, I’m also working on a TV pilot. But I promise I’ll take a little break after that.”