I am in no way a performer, I hold no desire to be a singer or actress. So there’s no real reason why Broadway legend Idina Menzel is a hero of mine. Yet she is. I just adore her voice. ADORE it. This is Idina, if you don’t know her. Look how cute she is.
I discovered the musical ‘Rent’ that launched her career a few years back. ‘Rent’… well I have a billion thoughts on ‘Rent’ but we’ll leave it at, I heard the message of the musical exactly when I needed it most. I thought she had the most divine voice and saw that she was in a new musical called ‘Wicked’. I brought the soundtrack and whilst I only had the vaguest idea of a storyline, I listened to it to death also. There is a song called ‘Defying Gravity’ that she sings and oh… it’s such a beautiful powerful song and she does it such justice. It’s become something of a theme song to me.
In recent times, she’s been on popular TV shows and movies. But I think she’s best known for her Broadway stuff. Which in my mind meant… when am I ever going to see her sing live? That opportunity actually happened. I actually got to see her sing live. In Brisbane, Australia of all places!
Whilst I don’t know much about her, she always carries this joie de vivre about her. And everything is fearless. And you can’t help but admire that. So unsurprisingly, this was magnified when I got to see her perform in person. And see her be herself, singing the songs of her choosing.
I was kind of afraid to hear her sing live. We’ve all been to concerts where the singer hasn’t lived up to the CD. But Idina was so much more. Her voice was breathtaking. Backed by a live orchestra, she has never sounded so wonderful to me.
She sang a range of songs, some of which I wasn’t familiar with but I enjoyed it all. I think this might have been one of the best concerts I’ve been to, purely for the fact that the audience was totally enjoying it too. They whooped and cheered and laughed and you could really sense everyone’s excitement. She danced up and down the stage and chatted with audience members.
I loved her rendition of ‘What I Did For Love’, a song that I only have a passing familiarity with (I know, I know, musical theatre people, I’m sorry…) that knocked my socks off with her feeling and power. And she sang it kneeling on a piano stool. I think it would be hard to sing to your full ability in that position but she kicked it outta the park.
She talked about how she got her start in ‘Rent’ and a bit about the creator of the show and his untimely passing, which segued into ‘No Day But Today’. And she asked the audience to sing it with her, so I get to legitimately say that I dueted with Idina Menzel :)
And speaking of ‘Rent’, possibly her biggest song is ‘Take Me Or Leave Me’ which she sang. But because it’s a duet and there’s only one of her… she asked audience members to sing with her. Apparently it’s something she does at every concert, but I was unaware and it took me by surprise and delight. Hands shot up all around the concert hall and she pointed out people to come down to the front and sing with her. It was such a hoot! And you know what? Every one of those volunteers was an AMAZING singer!! It was so much fun to hear these unknown people sing wonderfully and to witness their joy at getting to sing with/for someone they obviously admire.
She closed by singing an acapella version of ‘For Good’ from ‘Wicked’ without a microphone. It was flawless. Her voice soared through the concert hall. And it hit me that this was me really getting to hear Idina sing. Plus the song is absolutely beautiful, and well, it was a recipe for tears. I’ve never really cried over something like that before. Like, I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t particularly happy, I was just overwhelmed and all these tears started racing down my cheeks. And then she followed that with ‘Defying Gravity’ (more tears). I never thought I’d ever hear the original Elpheba sing in real life, let alone sing my personal theme song.
This woman next to me started singing along during a particular song. I glared at her several times to no avail, then I nudged her and went shh and then she was quiet. That woman was my mother but I probably would have done the exact same thing if I hadn’t known her :)
I actually haven’t listened to any of her songs since the concert. I just… nothing will live up to the magic of hearing her voice live and I want that spell to last as long as possible.