by Katie Aramento, Staff Writer
The queen is making her comeback.
On Monday, Broadway diva Idina Menzel performed “Let it Go” with country star Jennifer Nettles on CMA’s “Country Christmas” special. Confused? So was I. But Idina Menzel is a household name now — she isn’t just gracing the Broadway stage anymore.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Ms. Menzel, let me give you a little briefing. Before “Frozen,” she was best known for originating the role of Elphaba in “Wicked” in 2003. Menzel didn’t only contribute to the start of this Broadway sensation. She also originated the role of Maureen in the cult-classic “Rent” back in 1996.
How many of us haven’t belted “Defying Gravity” or “Take Me or Leave Me” with our friends? If you’re raising your hand, I question your true commitment to Broadway. While I do think that these two songs have become grossly overrated, it can’t be denied that they are classics, and Menzel’s voice is connected to both of them.
I say that Menzel has made a “comeback” because I can only name a few things that she did after leaving “Wicked,” and only one has been mainstream. The film version of “Rent” was made in 2005, and she had a small role in Disney’s “Enchanted” (one of my all-time favorite movies).
She appeared in the PBS concert special “Chess” with Josh Groban and Adam Pascal. More notably in pop culture, though, Menzel played Rachel Berry’s birth mother on “Glee,” which brought us a super cool rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Most importantly, she had a son with now-ex Taye Diggs. That sure does keep a person busy, so it’s understandable that we have heard very sporadically from Menzel until now. But now that she’s here, she can’t be stopped!
It seems that everything Menzel touches becomes an instant hit. Though we are all slightly sick of hearing the song, “Let it Go” is still playing on television, in stores and on the radio. Disney has released a “Frozen” sing-along DVD for the holiday season, and covers are popping up everywhere — the Pentatonix arrangement is my recent favorite. “Frozen” has already been compared to “The Lion King” as one of Disney’s greatest films. Menzel has even confirmed that a sequel is in the works. No surprise there!
“Frozen” has undoubtedly led to Menzel’s successes in her other endeavors. Her new musical “If/Then” has gotten pretty horrid reviews, yet it remains on Broadway. Parents are bringing their little girls dressed up like Elsa to a show that includes very adult content. It does relatively well at the box office, but it isn’t nearly as successful as Menzel’s past productions. I would wager that without “Frozen,” the show would’ve closed months ago.
Menzel’s new Christmas album, “Holiday Wishes,” reached number 10 on the Billboard Albums Chart this week. While it includes many new arrangements of holiday classics, my favorite is her “Baby it’s Cold Outside” duet with Michael Bublé. It’s so incredibly loveable. She performed select songs on the “Today” show a few days ago, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last week. This must be pretty crazy for someone who has struggled to find her voice as a pop artist ever since she could sing a note.
And it doesn’t stop there! Menzel has just announced her World Tour, which will begin next summer. And while “If/Then” may flounder in her absence, fans all over the world will finally be able to catch Menzel live on stage. She has become a worldwide sensation and undeniably will remain so.
Ultimately, Menzel may have to credit most of her success to that of “Frozen,” which led to a huge increase in her fan base. But for those of us who have been Menzel supporters since the beginning, this leap to stardom is just formal proof of what we’ve always known: girl’s got pipes!