Friday, August 10, 2012

Idina Menzel: the Ultimate Broadway Diva

I recently had the incredible honor to see Ms. Idina Menzel in concert at Wolf Trap National Park.  For fans of the TV show "Glee" or the movie Enchanted, that name may sound familiar.  Idina plays Rachel's biological mom in Glee and Nancy in Enchanted.  This was my second time seeing Idina, I saw her a few years ago, but that doesn't mean the show wasn't amazing.  Just as a warning, this post will be a little video-clip heavy.  You're under no obligation to listen to/watch any of these videos, although they are pretty awesome, and I think you should.  I do also apologize for the quality of some of the photos as well, I did what I could, but I didn't have the flash on.

The first act of the show was focused on Steven Renieke, a world-renowned composer, and the National Symphony Orchestra.  Renieke started the show with the above piece, which he wrote a few years ago.  It's a beautiful song called "Celebration Fanfare."  The National Symphony Orchestra then played a medley of songs from the show Gypsy and a tribute to Diana Ross.  All three pieces were phenomenal, as if you could expect anything less from the National Symphony Orchestra, although the first song was my favorite.

After a brief intermission, the second act with Idina singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" off stage.  When she came on stage, she started singing the above song, "The Wizard and I" from Wicked.  Now, I have 3 favorite musicals in the world, two of which Idina has starred in, and Wicked is one of them.  Last time I saw her, she didn't sing this song, and I was thrilled.  The end of this song is so powerful and amazing, and while I've seen the show twice, hearing Idina sing it live is just a dream come true.

Now, Idina is a very outspoken, speak your mind type of girl.  She explained why she always performs barefoot now (after giving birth to her ADORABLE son, Walker, she got tired of wearing huge heels on stage and just decided to go barefoot, it's more fun that way apparently).  Idina also doesn't have much of a filter when she speaks, and sometimes a little four letter word will slip out.  After dropping one in particular, she turned to Steven and said, "Yeah, I'm never going to be invited back here am I?"  Idina is also interacts with the audience a lot as well.  She likes to talk to them, and get to know them, at least the ones in the front row since they're so close to her.

Idina also talked about when she performed the above song "Don't Rain on My Parade" for the Kennedy Center Honors in honor of Barbara Streisand.  Now, I'm not a fan of Barbara Streisand, at all, so I'm not going to try to recreate the story for you.  Besides, Idina has her own special storytelling technique that I just can't do.  So, check out the clip below to see what happened after Idina performed for Barbara.

I'm sorry about the quality of the video.  This wasn't the performance I saw, but the story's still the same.

Idina also performed some of her new, original songs.  I don't have clips for them though, since they haven't been formally released yet.  I can tell you that they were amazing.  I have Idina's last two albums, "Here" and "I Stand."  In my opinion, "Here" is alright, but "I Stand" blows it all out of the water.  Each album gets better than the last, so I can't wait to see her new album and what she has in store.  From what I heard, the new album will be absolutely amazing, and I can't wait for it to come out.

Now, Idina was in a little show called Rent about 16 years ago.  She met her husband there and got her big break on Broadway there.  In this clip, Idina's talking about the writer and creator of the show, Jonathan Larson, who died the day before the show opened.  He gave them a beautiful gift though.  While the song Idina sings isn't an actual "song" in the show in it's own right, it is included in a few key songs throughout the show and the movie, including the absolutely gorgeous finale.

Idina also sang the above song from Rent, "Take Me or Leave Me."  When she performed this song, she actually went out into the audience to find some people to sing with her, since this song is a duet.  We saw one of the girls later on, and she was saying how she was still in shock over the entire thing.  I mean, there are Idina fans who hadn't even heard of her before she was on Glee and other fans who have loved her for years (I've been a fan since I first saw Rent about 6 1/2 years ago and heard her on the soundtrack to Wicked).  You could tell that these were hardcore fans though, and those are the fans who are the most fun in my opinion.

Perhaps the best song Idina performed all night was "Defying Gravity" from Wicked.  Now, as I explained before when I posted this song on my blog when I saw the show in London, the only way to listen to this song is at maximum volume, anything less simply isn't right.  I was over the moon (no pun intended for any Rent-heads out there, if you don't get it, Google it and tell me what you think, that's always a fun song to expose people to with no explanation at all), beside myself and ecstatic.  I LOVE this song, it has beautiful lyrics and powerful music, and while the two women I saw in Wicked were excellent as Elphaba, nobody but Idina could ever do the song it's complete justice.

After the show, my friend and I went to the stage door (on my urging, since I refused to leave until we at least tried).  We stood there and waited, and waited, and waited some more.  After about forty-five minutes, a door opened, and a shadowy figure came out (it wasn't very well lit).  Sure enough, it was Idina, my idol.

After I first met Anthony Rapp (also from Rent) about three years ago, I really haven't been star struck.  For those of you who haven't been star struck, it's a really weird sensation.  I wasn't star struck when I met Idina, but I was definitely in shock.  All I could really get out was "I'm such a HUGE fan!" 

I was a little skeptical about meeting her, I'd heard she was a bit of a diva, and if I found out that she really was a mean person (like when I met Richard Griffiths, although I'm not a very big fan of his), I'm pretty sure it would have completely destroyed me.  Luckily, Idina was exactly what she was like on stage, bubbly and energetic.  It was late, and she probably wanted to call her husband, but she signed everything.  There weren't time for posed pictures unfortunately, but I snapped these photos, which was better than nothing.

Overall, the evening was amazing.  Idina Menzel is the one celebrity who I absolutely worship and love above all others, so for me to get her autograph was amazing.  I mean, they had signed posters you could buy, but that honestly felt like cheating.  You gotta stand there and get the autograph yourself, that's true dedication.  My goal is to get the autographs of all 6 original Broadway cast members who were also in the Rent movie, I currently have two (Idina and Anthony Rapp).  Two more are a little more difficult (Adam Pascal, aka my future husband, and Jesse L. Martin) and the last two are going to be incredibly difficult (Taye Diggs, Idina's husband, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia).  It's totally worth the challenge though, all six of them are amazing in their own right.

Me and Becca having fun at Wolf Trap, getting ready to call it a night after an amazing evening together.

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