Thanks to originating roles in Rent and Wicked, Idina Menzel has acquired legendary status amongst her army of fans (my wife included). This show is almost a repeat of last year's at the Royal Albert Hall but it's far better to see her in the intimate surroundings of the Apollo. She started in great style with her mix of songs and quirky chatter which careers off at weird tangents, but it was clear that she was battling a throat problem. One great difference to last year is that her conductor Marvin Hamlisch has passed away and after a heartfelt tribute and a song from A Chorus Line Idina's mood seemed to darken and she lost focus for a while. During Take Me Or Leave Me from Rent she duetted with supposedly randomly chosen audience members who were not only word perfect but also remarkably good (especially my wife's Filipina compatriat). That seemed to cheer Idina up and she was back on great form right through to the inevitable but still extraordinary vocal pyrotechnics of Defying Gravity (with a cameo appearance from her very shy son). The encores featured a new song from the writers of Next to Normal which raises the hope that she could be considering a return to a new musical and Somewhere from West Side Story, which Idina named as her favourite song of all time and it's my favourite song from a musical as well, but didn't quite deliver the big finish I had hoped for. The set is rather short at just 100 minutes but, even when not at her absolute best, Idina is a remarkable singer and interpreter of songs with abundant star quality. - David Baxter
15 Oct 12
Just been to the Sunday afternoon show. Awesome! - Rae
14 Oct 12
What a great night at the Theatre, Idina has a fantastic voice & choose a great selection of songs from Rent, Chorus Line, Wicked & a couple of new numbers...What makes this evening so special is the warmth she gives to the audience & it never seems false... A special evening with a true Theatre Star... - tim
11 Oct 12
One of the joys of seeing an Idina Menzel show is her incredibly endearing honesty, and her current show at the Apollo Theatre in London is no exception. Menzel is grieving Marvin Hamlisch, the renowned composer and conductor who passed away suddenly in August 2012. Menzel collaborated with Hamlisch on her tour last year, which included her singular performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Anyone who saw the show will remember how clearly their close relationship came across, their affection and trust in one another could not have been more evident, not to mention their shared sense of humour. Menzel pays great tribute to Hamlisch in this show, and in turn the tone is mostly rather sombre. As always she sings phenomenally, showcasing her gargantuan lung capacity and belting out the high notes without batting an eyelid. She dutifully performs crowd pleasers like The Wizard and I and For Good from Wicked, however it is a shame that the mood somewhat dampens her wonderful humour. One of the highlights of Menzel’s Royal Albert Hall show was learning what an excellent raconteuse she is, every song was introduced with a personal and often very entertaining anecdote as she masterfully shaped the show. There was much less of that tonight and she was clearly struggling at times to maintain her composure, however always the consummate professional, her performance was flawless.
Menzel has the Midas touch, and whether she is singing Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell or Barbara Streisand, she never fails to impress. She does not perform as much of her musical theatre repertoire as one might expect or indeed hope, however neither does she neglect it. One absolute highlight of the show is when she takes advantage of the intimate venue to make some dreams come true. Without giving it away, anybody who knows Take Me or Leave Me from RENT may want to sit in the stalls… (Although sitting elsewhere will not preclude you from participating if you show enough enthusiasm).
Die-hard Idina fans may be disappointed that she does not perform more of what she is known best for (indeed Glee goes unmentioned altogether), however the opportunity to spend an evening submerged in the spine-tingling sound of her voice and warm presence must not be missed. - Joey Clark
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