Idina Menzel

By Robin Jay

Idina MenzelTalk about a powerhouse of talent! At age 33, Idina won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Elphaba in the hit Broadway musical “Wicked.” Following her Broadway run, she went on to perform the role to packed audiences in the West End production in London, where she won the Theatregoers Choice Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
One could say Idina‘s talent defies gravity — and not just because that’s the name of the spine-tingling song she stunned audiences with each night in “Wicked.” This sizzling starlet is constantly soaring to new heights on stage, but also on the airways and on the silver screen. Queens-born Idina had a passion for music and performing early on. She began her career while in her teens working as a wedding and bar mitzvah singer. She continued that job while earning a BFA in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 1995, she auditioned for what became her first professional theater job and what turned out to be her Broadway debut. Her performance as Maureen in “Rent,” which went on to win a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize, also earned Idina a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Other live stage performances include the Off-Broadway “See What I Wanna See” in 2005, for which Idina received Drama Desk and Drama League Award nominations. The dynamic performer has also appeared live on stage in “Aida,” “Hair,” “The Wild Party” and “The Vagina Monologues.”
Comfortable in all performing genres, Idina’s list of career credentials is staggering. She recently joined the cast of the FOX juggernaut television show “Glee” in which she plays Shelby Corcoran, the coach of the show’s rival glee club and, it turns out, the biological mother to Lea Michele’s character Rachel Berry. Other TV appearances include “Private Practice” and several PBS telecasts including the 2010 production of “A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House” and “Chess: The Musical” in which Idina shared the stage with legendary singer Josh Groban at London’s Royal Albert Hall. On the silver screen, Idina has appeared in Disney’s hit film “Enchanted,” starring Susan Sarandon, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden and Amy Adams She was also seen in “Kissing Jessica Klein,” “The Tollbooth” and “Just a Kiss. She portrayed Maureen in the film version of “Rent,” just months after she co-starred in “Ask the Dust” opposite Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell.
An accomplished singer-songwriter, Idina recently completed a sold-out national tour to promote a new digital release of her Warner Bros Records album “I Stand.” Tour dates across the nation included stops at Boston’s Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops and outside Washington, Wolftrap with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by legendary composer Marvin Hamlisch. Her upcoming concert with the Nashville Symphony on June 7 will be one fans will be sure to find “wicked good!”
But Idina finds time to give back too. In 2009, she served as Honorary Chair of New York’s Annual Charity Coronation Ball along with Patti Lupone, Sir Elton John, Joan Rivers, Dame Robin Strasser and John Cameron Mitchell. She also often performs in benefit concerts including one in 2009 for the Pace Academy Diversity Program in coordination with the Ron Clark Academy. The concert result: funding of two scholarships for Ron Clark Academy students to attend Pace Academy. Every note this talented performer hits, whether on stage, on TV or on the silver screen, rings true for Idina and her audiences.


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Robin Jay