I feel like I’ve barely had time to breathe this week. There are worse things that being social, but as I age travelling up the highway and back again more than once in a week really takes its toll. Still, when you’re seeing wonderful things it’s worth all the effort. And Idina Menzel’s concert at the Opera House on Wednesday night was certainly a wonderful thing.
I became enamoured with Idina when I discovered Rent in the late ’90s. Wicked came later, and then Glee, with their roles that showcased Idina’s charisma and incredible vocal prowess. So when I heard she was visiting Australia this month, I jumped at the chance to be in the audience. My expectations were high, but she didn’t disappoint.
In fact, this was one of those shows that was even better than I’d hoped for. What a personality Idina has. She was genuinely humble and so incredible open. She was free with stories of her professional and personal life, even when those memories were painful like the loss of composer and mentor Marvin Hamlisch and Rent creator Jonathan Larson.
The music took the night to another level though. It was eclectic mix touching on jazz standards, musical theatre numbers, and even pop songs. It’s rare to find a set with songs from Lady Gaga, Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell, and Peter Gabriel, but I relished it. It all worked so well. Her tender rendition of “Both Sides Now” was spellbinding, her take on Barbra Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” invigorating, her performance of Wicked signature song “Defying Gravity” every bit as impressive without green makeup and levitation.
But personally none of them compared to the joy I felt at witnessing her singing my favourite song from my favourite musical, “Take Me or Leave Me”. As it’s a duet I never expected it to make the set, but I didn’t count on her secret weapon: a ridiculously talented Sydney audience. Normally when singers invite random strangers to the microphone the results are cringeworthy. There’s something special about a musical theatre audience though. All the guest vocalists were stellar. If Idina didn’t look so impressed I’d assume they were plants. Witnessing all these great voices coming together was a true highlight.
I’d be remiss not to mention the Sydney Symphony Orchestra too, who helped elevate Idina’s act as only a full orchestra can. What a combination.
I’m still raving about this show to anyone who’ll listen days later. It was incredible, utter magic. And for nights like that, I’ll happily accept a little post-concert fatigue!
The Sydney Opera House is pretty strict about its no-photos policy, so with that in mind I figured I’d share you one of the clips from the tour video. It’s not Sydney, but it shows how special it is when Idina works with an orchestra. Enjoy!