‘Wicked,’ ‘Rent’ star Idina Menzel to sing at the Bushnell
Idina Menzel lives to perform.
The Tony Award-winning actress, best known for her Broadway roles of Elphaba in “Wicked” and Maureen Johnson in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Rent”, will perform with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra on Friday at the Bushnell in Hartford.
“I love singing live. It’s what makes me tick,” Menzel said in a telephone interview.
“It’s a thrilling experience performing with an orchestra. Any experience to perform is one worth taking.”
“Almost a year ago I decided to go out with symphonies. It allows me to explore my music,” she added.
Menzel says the music featured in the special one-night concert will be varied.
“There will be lots of standards, songs from shows I’ve been in, a few songs from my albums, it will be eclectic.”
“I try to get a lot of sleep. I do my vocal exercises. I have to be sure I’m well-prepared,” Menzel said of her pre-tour preparation.
“I put on my dress and make sure my feet are clean because I go out barefoot. I have to make sure my feet look good,” Menzel adds, describing the few moments before she goes on stage.
Menzel also has personal must-have items while she’s on the road.
“I have to have my favorite strapless bra and my computer to sing along with my vocal tracks.”
She says the rewarding part of theater is learning new dimensions to her characters.
“I love it because you get to return and chip away at the character,” Menzel said of her roles.
“You might see something new in them after six months. It’s always unexpected,” she added.
“I have gratitude to all those experiences,” Menzel said of her Broadway roles.
Menzel was nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of Maureen in 1994 and won a Tony Award in 2003 for her role as Elphaba.
“I didn’t expect to win,” Menzel said.
“It was a dream come true. It was surreal. I worked hard on Elphaba for so many years.”
“It’s a wonderful role. She represents all the people who feel ostracized for being different.”
As for her Tony Award, Menzel says it’s safe at home.
“It’s on my New York apartment living room shelf.”
Asked which of her characters she would most like to spend the day with, Menzel replied, “Can I have a weekend?”
“I would like to spend Saturday evening with Maureen. I would like going out with her, hanging out with her friends, saying whatever I want to say, and seeing one of her performances.”
“Sunday I would spend with Elphaba. I would take it easy, wake up late, learn some magic spells, and go on a ride with her on her broom,” Menzel said. “I would like to interview her myself too.”
In addition to her powerful stage roles, Menzel was featured on “Glee” as Rachel Berry’s (Lea Michele) mother and coach of New Direction’s rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline.
“I would have preferred to play her sister,” Menzel said with a laugh.
“I liked doing ‘Poker Face’ because that was different,” she said of her favorite performance on “Glee.”
In last season’s finale, Shelby told Rachel she was unable to be her mother then adopted Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Puck’s (Mark Salling) newborn daughter Beth.
“That was one of those things your character did but it might not be what you would do in real life,” Menzel explained.
“I couldn’t imagine leaving my child.”
“But it’s great writing and it was a good way to leave it open,” she added.
Whether Shelby will be making an appearance again soon remains undetermined but Menzel holds faith.
“I’m not sure. I really hope so,” she said.
Along with her memorable stage roles, Menzel has released two studio albums, “Gorgeous” and “I Stand,” which feature her own original songs.
“It could be a medley that comes to me when I wake up in the morning,” Menzel says of what inspires her lyrics.
“It can be something real or something I made up. It’s different stages and styles,” she explained.
Menzel offers her words of wisdom to aspiring performers.
“Listen and study, educate yourself on terrific performers. Don’t be afraid to be an individual.”