TORONTO – Idina Menzel makes her first live apperance in Toronto to a sold out crowd at the Royal Conservatory downtown. This concert however was very special for the simple fact that it was being taped live, for a PBS special that will be airing the concert in March as well as a live CD and DVD. The moment I stepped into the concert hall I noticed the large TV camera’s and as the audience was told, we were all going to be part of the live taping, so no cellphones, flashes…all that fun stuff that the audience is always warned about fifteen times.
First Marvin Hamlisch comes out to a big round of applause and steps up on his podium and the orchestra starts to play, then Idina came out with this beautiful bright pink strapless gown with sparkly jewelry and no shoes, which no one seemed to noticed until she pointed it out. Our seats were incredible, regardless of the size of the auditorium, we could see her perfectly. Almost instantly my mother turned to me and said, “She looks so much younger in person” which I have to agree with, for some reason on Glee they’re really trying to sell that she is a mother, and they do. Idina who is 40 looks that age on the show, but in person barely mid-30s, she is gorgeous.
She opened with ‘Life of the Party’ from her first off-Broadway show called ‘Wild Party.’ Which got a surprising amount of applause, I say this slightly shocked because the show never made it to Broadway
Then she introduced the orchestra which is The Kitchener-Waterloo Orchestra and then legendary Marvin Hamlisch. He is legendary because he is one of 13 performers who have receive the EGOT, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards, Barbra Streisand is among those recipients.
She then introduces her next song which is from ‘Wicked’, which gets the loudest round of applause and enlists a look of shock over her face and then she reply’s “You’ve seen it?….I was the green one.”
She then did something that we can only attest to the success of Glee, she mashed it up with ‘Roxanne’ by the Police, for this vulnerable, yet empowering performance. – Enjoy video from a previous performance:
For people who didn’t know Marvin Hamlisch was the 1973 Academy Award winner for his original song, “The Way We Were” from the film of the same name that starred Barbra Streisand, who was also nominated for an Academy Award. Barbra Streisand has played a large roll in Idna’s musical career and life. As she tells Marvin she loved singing ‘The Way We Were’ as a young child in Long Island, with her young jewish accent. This was the introduction to the first time Idina met and performed for Mrs. Streisand, and it’s a hilarious story.
The beauty of a show like this is that the singer will do what they can to make it as personal for the audience as it is to them, which is why Idina tells many stories in between each song, and it’s also nice as a viewer and listener to live vicariously through that persons life of success.
She then sings a song called ‘Look to the Rainbow,’ I’m not sure who sings this or if it’s an original, but it was beautiful and full of power. She then gets up and thanks the orchestra and the audience, tells us how much she appreciates us coming out and participating in the show, then does something very touching and real. She stands center stage, no mic in hand and no orchestra playing along and sings A. Capella ‘For Good’ from Wicked as a thank you to us all. It is so amazing to hear and see her do something like this, her voice was powerful and beautiful and it was simply effortless and amazing.
This then transitions into ‘Defying Gravity’ which she of course nails, crazy belting, an amazing rift I didn’t expect and perfect vibrato. She then bows with Marvin and walks off, while receiving and standing Ovation, before she comes back out and Marvin sits behind the piano.
He proceeds to play ‘The Way We Were,’ and this is the one thing I was desperately hoping for. This is my moms favorite song of ALL time and I was so happy that Idina sang it, truthfully before she even got the first lyrics out my mother was already crying, that’s what the song does to her.
After her amazing rendition of the song, she seats herself center stage and sings ‘Tomorrow’ from Anne, which she dedicates to her parents. It was amazing and very different from the more up tempo version from the film, but I prefer hers much more, its all voice, all technique, pure beauty.
All in all the show was amazing, Idina was funny and cute, her voice is literally a piece of heaven.