Brief Encounter with... Idina MenzelDate: 5 October 2012
Idina Menzel originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked in both New York & London, winning the Tony & Whatsonstage.com Awards for Best Actress in a Musical. She also originated the role of Maureen in Rent, and has released solo albums, as well as starring in Glee.
Menzel is in concert at the Apollo Theatre, London from 8 to 12 October 2012, the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 16 October and the Palace Theatre, Manchester on 17 October. Her new album Live: Barefoot at the Symphony is available now and the DVD is out 8 October www.idinauk.com.
Tell us about your new tour
Every night I have a different favourite song. I’ve been doing this Joni Mitchell arrangement of “Both Sides Now”. It’s really beautiful, completely based around the piano. And there are a few original songs that I’m doing that I’m enjoying a lot.
I don’t feel comfortable just singing songs without associating them with an anecdote about my life or about where they came from. I have a lot of fun with it, and the more I do it the more comfortable I am doing my own shows. I think it’s important to be intimate with the audience, and let an audience get to know who you are. The shows that I’ve loved seeing in the past are shows that I’ve left feeling the artists shared a part of their soul with the audience and so it’s a scary thing to do but it’s thrilling for me.
The audience feels that there is a lot of spontaneity, and they feel like they are seeing something which nobody else has seen. And in essence they are, because every show is different.
Are you enjoying being back in London, and do you find the audiences here different?
When I was living here for five months when I opened Wicked people told me to be prepared that the audience would feel different, and I think they were implying that they would be more reserved but I felt quite the opposite. I felt that the British audiences were extremely welcoming and enthusiastic and warm, and when I do my own shows here it’s even more so.
I remain open for new things to come in, and what I like to call happy mistakes. I’m not afraid of any of that because then it goes on a tangent that’s fun and different and interesting. I want people to feel that each show is special in itself.
You sing a mixture of covers and original material in your show
When I’m writing, Joni Mitchell is a great influence, as a lyricist especially. Annie Lennox has been a big influence for me. I listen to all kinds of music when I’m writing songs.
Are they any roles you’d like to play?
I’m in the early stages with a few projects, where the writers are doing their thing. It’s a little early to say but there are things that I’m looking forward to exploring with them.
Would you ever return to Wicked?
Being able to come here to London and rediscover the role was a gift. I got to do it and I felt more confident here because I had already proven myself in New York. It was wonderful to work and have that confidence whereas a lot of times I don’t , I’m worried I’m going to get fired. But I’ve done that, I’ve gone through all of the cycles with Wicked, I don’t think there’s more really for me to do there.
You released albums of original work. Do you plan on writing another album?
I don’t write all by myself anyway, I like to collaborate with people that really know what they’re doing. I work pretty consistently with Walter Afanasieff, he’s a great American producer and songwriter so he’s someone that I see a lot, and collaborate with him.
I haven’t been giving that as much thought lately, it’s been more about really cultivating the show and a great evening as opposed to me being in my writers head. I have to be in different states of mind.
What would you like to be most remember for?
-Idina Menzel was talking to Rosie Bannister.
Come on our hosted Whatsonstage.com Outing to Idina Menzel on Tuesday 9 October 2012 and get your top-price ticket, programme and access to our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A Menzel- all for just £32.50! Click here for details.