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It's been 10 years since Wicked opened on Broadway, propelling Idina Menzel's career into a household name (well, amongst the musical theatre community at least) and earning her a Tony for her leading role as Elphaba. I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of the musical but after youtubing her live PBS concert in Toronto, I geeked out by her setlist of showtunes and big vocal moments.

At the Sydney Opera House, she opened offstage with Somewhere Over The Rainbow, a song from a more innocent Oz, before bounding onstage with bare feet and launching into The Wizard and I. She exchanged some flirty banter with Vanessa Scammell, the conductor of the massive Sydney Symphony Orchestra. "This woman is upstaging my shit. I love her ASS!" Throughout the night, her feisty sense of humour shone through her anecdotes and audience interaction. Right in the middle of belting out Barbra Streisand's Don't Rain On My Parade, she interrupted herself for a few minutes to compliment a little girl in a pink sequinned tutu, and then scanned the men in the first few rows, joking that they were either gay or dragged here by their wives. She gave a shoutout to the DOMA repeal announced earlier that day that would pave the way for her friends to marry the ones they love and compared that to her own experience marrying a black man (Taye Diggs, the hot MC guy from the movie Chicago) and how that would have been illegal a few decades ago. Practically in the same breath, she promptly delivered the rest of the song with the orchestra matching her theatricality.

Idina told her memories of being a wedding and bar mitzvah singer in Long Island and how she got sick of singing the Conga and demonstrated how one of her rivals would incorporate cheesy dance moves to The Jacksons. She shifted gears and performed a sultry mash up of Cole Porter's Love For Sale and Roxanne by The Police. She gave a touching tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, a father figure who passed away recently. She sang two of his songs from A Chorus Line, followed by an original song she's been working on and also a beautiful rendition of Joni Mitchell's Clouds.

She noted that the musicians in the orchestra have been playing Bach and Beethoven their whole lives, only to be reduced to perform a Lady Gaga song (Poker Face from her appearance on Glee) and made fun of the lyrics and its inappropriateness in the context of her mother/daughter relationship with Rachel.

Before Wicked, her breakthrough role on Broadway was for originating Maureen in Rent and she clambered off the stage to find a duet partner in the audience for Take Me Or Leave Me, and it was hilarious watching starstruck fans sing and hyperventilate simultaneously as she offered them the microphone. All of them were nervous but a couple of hardcore musical theatre fans hit all the notes with flair. Idina was gracious and warm, and even though I was sitting in the box section slightly behind her, she would turn around to sing and wave to us throughout the show.

A spellbinding moment came when she put away her microphone to sing For Good acapella, her voice projecting throughout the concert hall. Then a ripple of excitement reverberated from the audience for the opening bars of Defying Gravity, the signature song from Wicked. Hearing her voice soaring above the swell of the orchestra was truly magnificent, and a real highlight for me in all my years of watching musicals. For her encore, she chose to sang her favourite song in the world, Somewhere from West Side Story and I vaguely remember clutching my heart from the sheer grandeur of it all.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 29th, 2013 10:58 am (UTC)
How did you remember all of that??? Hahaha.

SHE'S MARRIED TO TAYE DIGGS? They must blind people when they smile their big smiles together ZOMG. *essplodes from thought of the pretty*
Jul. 30th, 2013 01:04 pm (UTC)
It definitely helped that half of the show overlapped with her PBS TV concert when she sang live in Toronto (I've been listening to it on Spotify). :)

Haha yeah they worked on Rent and Wicked.. they have a son together and he is totally adorbs!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )