Indina Menzel at the Bod Gais Energy theatre, 20 June 2015
Raising an army of musical theatre fans from her performances in ‘Rent’ and ‘Wicked’ – and equally recruiting from the mainstream by her involvement with ‘Glee’ and ‘Frozen’ – Idina Menzel is a hybrid: the only person to have both a TONY award for acting and a Top-10 hit.
In Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy Theatre for one night only, we were among the sold-out crowd for the star’s first world tour.
Surprisingly starting with one of her most famed songs, Menzel unleashes a solo arrangement of the powerful duet Defying Gravity from the musical ‘Wicked’. This seems to overwhelm the throngs of die-hard fans in the stalls, who instantly offer up the first standing ovation of the night. Despite having sung this one hundreds of times on Broadway and the West End, the highest notes however prove to be a bit of a stretch for Menzel’s opening song.
Flicking through a catalogue of classic show tunes like Don’t Rain on My Parade, No Business Like Show Business, and Anything Goes, this veteran of the stage delivers near-perfect vocals with minimal effort, leaving her free to prowl the front of the stage and throw witty quips at the crowd at every possible moment.
Strings, brass, drums, keys and guitars share her stage for the night, giving a beautiful full, rounded sound though never succeeding to overpower the New York songstress. ‘Wicked’ gets a call-back as she delivers an electric rendition of The Wizard and I, this time well-and-truly warmed up and strainlessly climbing to the top of the songs range.
Taking a break from the big musical numbers, Menzel reflects quite candidly on the pressure of keeping a smile on stage, delivering a cheery performance when your mood is anything but that, “Some days you just don’t want to sing Let It Go”, she confesses. The band, who have gently scored her monologue, follow her lead into a hauntingly honest cover of Radiohead’s Creep. Half-sitting, half-kneeling on the stage, the singer ensnares the room with her performance – a true picture of vulnerability.
Reclaiming her stage posture, Menzel enlists some audience help for Take Me or Leave Me from ‘Rent’, somehow managing to pick three of the strongest singers in attendance, who earn themselves a standing ovation in their own right.
We return to ‘Wicked’ one final time, as Menzel extends an emotional thank you to her fans with a stunning a capella arrangement of For Good. With no microphone and nothing but the dull hum of the air conditioning for accompaniment, she fills the theatre to the brim with her rich, enchanting vocals.
Drawing an end to her set, the multi-platinum selling Let It Go from ‘Frozen’ almost pales in comparison to the more emotionally-charged performances that preceded it. However, it wins a huge reaction regardless.
When someone climbs the ladder of fame through a number of different collectives and affiliations, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get from an individual endeavour. The atmosphere for Idina Menzel’s show tonight was somewhat akin to an award show, albeit minus the montages, lengthy speeches and mispronounced names, and featuring only the best bits – big-band sound, a curation of compelling songs and stunning live vocals.