By Michael Gioia
17 Jun 2014
Tony winner Idina Menzel may be the only performer who can silence a room full of 6,015 theatregoers, sing to the rafters without a microphone and bring the entire crowd to its feet. After all, the singer — who, this year, skyrocketed to superstardom via the Oscar-winning animated film "Frozen," in which she sings the now-iconic "Let It Go" — is at the height of her fame and has been, as she says, changed "For Good."
At 7:55 PM the curtain rose at Radio City Music Hall, where Menzel had been only one week prior — as a Tony nominee for her portrayal of Elizabeth in the new Broadway musical If/Then. A full orchestra accompanied Menzel, who kicked off her evening with "Defying Gravity," the song that earned her the coveted Tony in 2004 for her turn as Elphaba, the not-so-wicked witch of Broadway's hit Wicked.
She was unafraid to poke fun at herself, saying that her first gown — a sparkly, strapless top that faded to a sheer black bottom — was an original from "Forever 41," her "best side" was her backside and her breasts (which accidentally made an appearance during the show's second half, when Menzel encountered a bit of a "costume malfunction") were "all real."
Menzel also made mention of a recent review, in which her voice was described as "screechy." In celebration of her "screechy" cords, the singer — who said she prefers to sing "loud and proud" — performed a medley of tunes stamped by the late, great Ethel Merman, the very first Broadway beltress. She began with "There's No Business Like Show Business" from Annie Get Your Gun, which led to the title song from Anything Goes and "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy. Bringing down the house, Menzel made audiences wonder how many years it would be before a Gypsy revival would be in the works.
Her first half also included "Brave" from her album "I Stand"; the title song from her early album "Still I Can't Be Still" (which, she joked, was way ahead of its time since it was only purchased by a select few); an original entitled "God Save My Soul"; a mashup of Cole Porter's "Love For Sale" (a tune she performed as an assignment when she studied at New York University) and The Police's "Roxanne"; and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," a song she described as a fine wine — the lyrics resonating strongly as a young adult, as a mother and now newly single.Continued...