on September 3, 2008
Any Broadway fan worth his or her weight in Playbills knows who Idina Menzel is. She has had quite a successful Broadway career first originating the role of Maureen Johnson in Rent and later the role of Elphaba in Wicked. So the minute I found out she was in Charlotte I had to go see her. Idina was performing at Spirit Square to support her new album I Stand . While Idina has been working for years as a singer, it was the first time she was able to write and perform her own music. She worked with producer Glen Ballard who has also worked with artists such as Celine Dion, Annie Lennox, and Alanis Morrisette. She was a former rock singer who has returned to her roots with lots of pop tunes and a few ballads through in. Several of her songs carry very powerful messages. The title song I Stand which speaks about standing up for your self even if you feel different (which sounds an awful lot like Elphaba). Songs like Better To Have Loved, Brave, and Gorgeous are all amazing and wonderful songs. She had a great rapport with the audience and spoke of her days as a wedding singer and even performed several Jewish songs telling us she never had her Bat Mitzvah as she dropped out of Hebrew school and even gave the background on the songs. She also got the audience laughing as Sprit Square was a former church with beautiful stained glass windows within the theater. She even sang some of her wedding songs including Embraceable You and the Girl from Impinoma . She performed for about almost 2 hours and had her own band. No you may wonder if she does a medley of songs from her two award winning Broadway show. She only performs two songs, one from each show. She and her band perform the very powerful Life Support from Rent and her signature song Defying Gravity only at a much slower pace and we ended up with a sing along with Idina. Her voice was just amazing and she was as beautiful as you can imagine. She is a flawless performer who warmly engages her audience. Idina has had an amazing career in Broadway. Unlike many people she never spent years in dance classes and working with voice coaches nor did she have to pay her dues working in a slew of ensemble parts before landing that one career defying role. Instead she was playing the club circuit with her band and still working as a wedding singer. In 1995 she won the part of Maureen Johnson, the bi-sexual performance artist, in RENT. That cast would go on to be one of the most successful casts in Broadway history. The original cast included the yummy Adam Pasqual who went on to also originate another successful role. that of Radames in AIDA. The very handsome Jessie L Martin of Law and Order fame. It also included Taye Diggs who she has been married to since 2003. In 2005 she along with most of the original cast of RENT reprised their roles for the movie version. Now of that wasn’t enough for one person, she wasn’t done with Broadway. In 2003 she originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked. She would later go onto to originate the role in the London cast. She also won the 2004 Tony for actress in a musical for her role. She also received a Drama nomination for best actress. In addition she was nominated in 1995 for a Tony for her role of Maureen in RENT. She can also been seen in the Disney move Enchanted . Her show was just amazing and I was very glad for the chance to see her. I hated I didn’t get to met her. I was going to "stage door" (basically stand at the stage door for autographs) until we found out she was doing a meet and greet for pass holder for the next 90 minutes and my feet were already screaming at me for the half a block walk from the parking lot. But if you join her fan club you can be among those to meet her. Parental Advice . If your daughter just luuuuuvvvess Elphaba, remember you are going to the person who originated the role. You are not going to see a shorter version of the stage show with Elphaba up on her riser belting out Defying Gravity in that upbeat tempo in the show. Make sure they are not going hoping to see that. Make sure they are happy going with going to see Idina in concert. A couple beside of me had a young daughter was non stop about Wicked and Elphaba and how she just loooved Elphaba. When Idina came out she whined and complained loudly about wanting to see Elphaba. They finally left the rest of us to enjoy the concert. Information/resources www.idinamenzel.com her official website. DVD documentary Show Business…The Road to Broadway RENT 2005. Sony productions. To see Idina in RENT go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ThCpLnuRzMWicked http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J72thWNW6PEFor a night with one of Broadways brightest stars make sure you come check out Idina.
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