OK, I confess. I have a small girl crush on Idina Menzel.
But honestly, I can’t imagine that I’m alone here. The woman is absolutely incredible and it was never more apparent than on Friday night, while she performed in front of the Minnesota Orchestra.
I knew going into the show that Miss Menzel had a one-of-a-kind voice that has propelled her to stardom, whether on the Broadway stage in “Wicked” and “Rent” or on the fabulous hit-TV show, “Glee.” But I had no idea she was so likeable, so personable and yes, down-right hilarious.
Truth be told, I kind of wanted to hate her. I mean, no offense, but she’s married to one of the hottest actors of all time — Taye Diggs — she’s locked lips with hunk-of-the-hour Matthew Morrison (“Glee’s” Will Schuester) and she played the part of McDreamy Patrick Dempsey’s girlfriend in “Enchanted.” Seriously, share the wealth, lady.
And yet, she’s just so darn charming and charismatic.
Walking onto the stage draped in a gorgeous purple strapless gown and sans shoes (she later revealed that was due to a thrown-out back and less about “being one with the stage”), Idina immediately captured the audience with her laid-back persona and easy-going presence.
For a star that’s performed in front of the president, glamorous celebrities and television audiences around the world, she’s incredibly down to earth and exudes a modest aura that’s both refreshing and a tad surprising.
She took several moments throughout the performance to joke with the stage sign language translator, poking fun at what the sign for “breastfeeding” looks like and how he approached her rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” (a dream composition for the orchestra, no doubt). She apologized for every time she needed to readjust her dress, either hoisting up the top or futzing with a dry cleaning pin still stuck in the side. And she half-scolded the audience for wooing at the mention of her fine husband saying, “It’s my show, so don’t talk about him.”
Beyond performing the “Glee” tribute to Miss Gaga (a song she admits confuses her both in lyric choices and “Glee’s” usage for the mother-daughter reunion) she sang a few jazzy numbers and of course, dove into her Broadway repertoire.
The stories she told in between songs made for some of the best moments of the evening. Sharing tales from her guest appearance on “Glee” (joking that it wasn’t exactly an ego-booster when she found out she’ll be playing the part of Rachel Berry’s mother, played by 24-year-old Lea Michele) and her experience singing “Don’t Rain On My Parade” for the Barbara Streisand. Menzel described how she rehearsed and stressed about the performance for eight months only to have Miss Streisand give her a double take, ask if she was the one who sang (the singing icon hadn’t been wearing her glasses that night) and then dubbing the rendition as “good,” propelling Menzel into a “what does that mean?” analysis of optimism versus pessimism in life.
But besides her delightful candor, Menzel truly wowed the crowd with what she does best — beautifully singing the songs that have changed her life. She gave an emotional tribute to the late Jonathan Larson (writer/composer of “Rent”) with “No Day But Today,” presented a gorgeous acapella performance of “For Good” from “Wicked” and ended with a goosebump-evoking “Defying Gravity.”
From beginning to end, Menzel was perfection and the audience couldn’t have been more pleased. The multi-talented singer brought the crowd to its feet on more than one occasion and perhaps the best thing from a viewer’s perspective — it seemed she enjoyed the evening’s events as much as the audience she captured.
Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.