Menzel, known for her Tony-Award winning role as Elphaba in Broadway's smash hit Wicked, a Tony-nominated performance in Rent and, more recently, her role in television's Glee, has endeared her to audiences of all genres. Appearing in a regal purple gown sans shoes gave forth the idea that although she has a glamorous occupation, she's still just one of us. The marvelous thing about that idea is...it's authentic. Menzel keeps the audience entertained, not just with her vocal range and powerful ballads, but also with her tales of growing up with all the usual angsts.
Selections included Defying Gravity, I'm Not That Girl and the nicely combined Love for Sale with Roxanne. One moment flirtatious with I Feel Smoochey, the next gentle in Look to the Rainbow from Finian's Rainbow is just one more reason Menzel is so popular. The reachable factor; yes she is on stage above you, but she is human and not stand-offish. Apologizing to the ISO Juliard-trained performers, she made the audience howl with laughter by ripping into her Glee rendition of Lady Gaga's Poker Face.
Throughout the evening the Long-Islander imitated Barbra Streisand's well-known voice, complete with the New York accent. She nailed the superstar's mannerisms and vocals during Don't Rain on My Parade and Funny Girl without losing her own style. She brought the house down with her tale of meeting idol Barbra Streisand, who promptly ignored her as only Babs can do. Eventually, after Menzel downed numerous tequila shots to get over the snub, she was finally given the nod of approval from the star for her performance.
Welcoming the only three ticket holders from the Smiley Glee Club (the entire group had performed in the lobby), onto the stage, Menzel performed back-up vocals, allowing the trio to be showcased. That, my friends, is a true lady with zero diva tendencies.
Bottom Line: Idina Menzel is enthralling in her approach with the audience, the songs, the orchestra and life. Her talent takes her from stage to television and to the silver screen. It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict that this performer will follow in the footsteps of other greats, including Streisand and Liza Minelli, who have outlasted countless others and have that one thing everyone wants: IT.
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, music, restaurant and theater critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC and follow her on Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook.
Photos: www.indianapolissymphonyorchestra.org; www.idinamenzel.com
Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.