VOICES Notes and news on Jazz Vocals releases
16 APR 12 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Tony Award-winning powerhouse Idina Menzel has been bringing Broadway to audiences around North America, performing with local symphony orchestras conducted by the legendary Marvin Hamlisch. In Toronto, she recorded a PBS special, Idina Menzel Live: Barefoot at the Park. The accompanying CD and DVD, Live: Barefoot at the Symphony, mark her debut on Concord Jazz.
Menzel shot to fame in the original cast of Rent and won a Tony for her portrayal of Elphaba in Wicked. In the meantime, she married her Rent castmate, actor Taye Diggs, who makes an appearance here, joining her in a lighthearted rendition of “Where Or When.”
With her vivacious personality and big voice, Menzel more than holds her own fronting Canada’s renowned 52-member Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Along with beloved Broadway hits, she twists the scenario by singing songs not usually given orchestral treatment, like Jimmy Webb’s evocative “Asleep On The Wind.” Menzel has been a recurring cast member on Glee and she reprises Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” which she sang on the show with her TV daughter, Lea Michelle. She introduces the song with a hilarious story about her mixed emotions upon getting the offer to play the mother of an actress who, in real life, is 25-years old. Throughout the show, her humor is warm and self-deprecating, never falsely modest or too showbizzy.
Another inspired arrangement is a mashup of Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale” and Sting’s “Roxanne.” Scandalous when “Love For Sale” premiered in a 1930 musical, it was banned from radio and its story has been downplayed ever since. Matching it with “Roxanne” brings the subject matter to the forefront.
Menzel closes her show with “Defying Gravity”, her showstopper from Wicked, followed by a heartfelt “Tomorrow” from Annie. This is Broadway for a new generation, old and new, rock and pop, and a must-have for Great American Music lovers of all ages.