Vocal Powerhouse Idina Menzel Says She's Ready for Anything

Idina Menzel has been mesmerizing audiences for more than two decades.
Idina Menzel has been mesmerizing audiences for more than two decades. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
Theater fans, buckle your seat belts, because Broadway royalty Adele Dazeem Idina Menzel is about to grace us with her gilded vocal cords July 26 at Smart Financial Centre. The songbird will entertain us with a night of classic pop covers, musical theater favorites, and a handful of songs from her personal catalogue — including selections from her new album, idina.

Audiences can expect a great night of entertainment from several genres. Menzel says the set list includes "the songs people would expect to hear from Rent and Wicked, new covers I’ve been doing, and some new arrangements. It’s an eclectic set, but it still all is kind of connected to stories in my life that I want to tell. It’s all kinds of music: theater, rock and roll, soul, jazz, and a great nine-piece band."

For a performer whose career in the public spotlight spans more than two decades, expect a wide selection of material. Likewise, expect this concert to appeal to people of all types. And that's just the type of combination of adoring fans that keeps Menzel on her toes.

"I want to stay true to myself, so I tried to figure out a way to speak to all crowds but still be authentic." — Idina Menzel

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"That’s something I’m most proud of, and it's the most challenging. It’s a huge demographic from little kids to all ages. [It includes the] gay community, older men, moms, theater-going parents who have grown up with me. They were 20 when I was in Rent, and now we have the Frozen crowd," she says. "Being a woman in my forties, I want to stay true to myself, so I tried to figure out a way to speak to all crowds but still be authentic. I think I’m doing a good job of balancing."

Because she likes to keep each performance a little different, Menzel didn't make any promises for the Houston concert; however, she has been known to bring people onstage to sing with her and to go off-script while talking with the audience.

"Every show is different. I try to stay spontaneous. Something I feel very comfortable doing is being comfortable in the spontaneity, whether that be musically or with my stage banter. So, I’ll go on tangents based on my audience and the things they throw at me. I’m ready to do anything fun and different."

Dubbed “the Streisand of her generation,” Menzel has captivated audiences around the world with her irresistible presence, wit and unparalleled vocal prowess since she first took Broadway by storm in 1996 in Rent. Her character Maureen Johnson was a show-stopping force, and it earned her a Tony Award nomination.

Her other most memorable role on Broadway was as the green-tinted Elphaba in Wicked. This time around, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, and cemented her status as one of the stage's most talented performers.

She is also a versatile actress who was able to make the leap from stage to the large and small screens. Among her screen work, she resurrected her role as Maureen for the movie adaptation of Rent and appeared as Rachel Berry's birth mother, Shelby Corcoran, on FOX's Glee.

Anyone with a youngster in the house will recognize her as the voice of Elsa from Disney's Frozen, which garnered the singer both an Oscar and a Grammy for the ubiquitous "Let It Go."

Fret not, Frozen fans, for you haven't seen the last of this ice princess. Elsa will return to the screen in a sequel, yet Menzel remains mum about details.

She simply says, "All I can tell you is I'm about to get into it for the first time in a few weeks. I'm excited to get back with the team and start working."

Idina Menzel performs Wednesday, July 26 at Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington Boulevard. For information, call 281-207-6278 or visit $48 to $143.

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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd