Idina Menzel – The Centre For Performing Arts In Vancouver – June 1, 2012
Stepping on to The Centre’s stage for her first visit to Vancouver, Tony-award winning singer-songwriter/actress Idina Menzel was greeted by enthusiastic applause. Kicking off a summer tour in support of her latest recording “Barefoot At the Symphony”, which indeed she was, pointing out her shoeless feet from under her summery layered white dress.
Kicking off the night with a mashup of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow/ The Wizard & I’ to the delight of the audience. Once the opening was out of the way, we got a taste of a more personal side of Ms Menzel as she told the audience anecdotes and tales of the songs and her personal life with husband, Taye Diggs and their 2 1/2 year old baby.
It turns out she is a great story teller as she had the audience in stitches with some of her hilarious tales but then also tugged at the heart strings with some of her more personal stories about Rent composer Jonathan Larson or her charity theatre-camp for inner-city New York girls, ‘A Broaderway“.
The set list reflected a wide range of tastes and styles all of which Idina’s voice handles with ease, her ease on stage translated into the audience who felt at ease and comfortable like they were watching a friend perform. Her great interaction with the audience reached its peak for “Take Me Or Leave Me” from Rent, the duet required a partner and she found very capable collaborators in audience members Jessica, Emily, Jeremy and Jake who each got to sing a bit of the tune with Idina…I’m sure a dream experience. Following that brilliant tune was the moving ‘Finale – No Day But Today’ also from Rent, which again was an audience participation piece as the crowd backed her up for another memorable moment.
While this was the first show of the tour it came complete with some opening night glitches as they worked out some sound issues and Idina read lyric notes (taped to the stage) on some of her cover songs or new tracks, like Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” or a brand new piece from Next To Normal composers Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. One moment she didn’t expect to need the lyrics was when performing “For Good” from Wicked, she began a brilliant acapella rendition with out microphone only to forget the lyrics half way through, it didn’t matter as a huge portion of the audience began to sing the rest for her and then with her as she caught up, making a mistake into a beautiful event for everyone.
While she considered them mistakes, the audience truly felt the whole evening was a brilliant performance, a glimpse at the ‘real’ person behind an amazing voice and two of Broadway’s most iconic musicals.