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Menzel performing at the U.S. Capitol in May 2008.
May 30, 1971
Queens, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Taye Diggs (m. 2003; separated 2013)|
|Genres||Broadway, pop, vocal|
Menzel performing at the U.S. Capitol in May 2008.
May 30, 1971
Queens, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Taye Diggs (m. 2003; separated 2013)|
|Genres||Broadway, pop, vocal|
Idina Menzel (/ /; born May 30, 1971) is an American actress and singer-songwriter. She rose to prominence when she originated the role of Maureen Johnson in the Broadway musical Rent, a role which she reprised for the 2005 feature film adaptation of the musical. She received a Tony Award nomination in 1996 for her performance in Rent. In 2004, she won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for originating the role of Elphaba in the Broadway musical Wicked. She made her return to Broadway in the 2014 musical If/Then. She was nominated for the 2014 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance in If/Then.
Menzel is also known for her recurring role of Shelby Corcoran, (the biological mother of main character Rachel Berry, played by Lea Michele) on the Fox musical comedy-drama TV series Glee, the 2007 Disney film Enchanted and as the voice of Elsa the Snow Queen in the 2013 Disney film Frozen, the highest-grossing animated film of all time, in which she sang the Academy Award-winning song "Let It Go". The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Menzel is the only competitive Tony Award-winning actress to ever reach the top 10.
Menzel was born Idina Kim Mentzel in Queens, New York on May 30, 1971. Her mother, Helene, is a therapist, and her father, Stuart Mentzel, worked as a pajama salesman. She has a younger sister named Cara. Menzel's family is Jewish; her grandparents emigrated from Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Her family lived in Syosset, New York, and New Jersey (East Brunswick, Somerset and Marlboro).
When Menzel was 15 years old, her parents divorced and she began working as a wedding and bar mitzvah singer, a job which she continued throughout her time at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Menzel, however, did not have a bat mitzvah after she quit Hebrew school. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drama at New York University before being cast in Jonathan Larson's rock musical Rent.
She changed the spelling of her surname to Menzel to better reflect the pronunciation the Mentzel family had adopted in America. She was friends with actor Adam Pascal before they worked together in Rent.
In 1995, Menzel auditioned for Rent, which became her first professional theatre job and her Broadway debut. Rent opened off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop on January 26, 1996, but it moved to Broadway's Nederlander Theatre due to its popularity. For her performance as Maureen Johnson in the original cast of the musical, Menzel received a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical losing to Ann Duquesnay for Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. Her final performance in the musical was on July 1, 1997.
Following the success of Rent, Menzel released her first solo album entitled Still I Can't Be Still on Hollywood Records, Menzel also originated the role of Dorothy in Summer of ’42 at Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut, starred as Sheila in the New York City Center Encores! production of Hair and appeared on Broadway as Amneris in Aida. Menzel earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for her performance as Kate in the Manhattan Theatre Club's 2000 off-Broadway production of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party. Her other off-Broadway credits include the pre-Broadway run of Rent and The Vagina Monologues.
In 2003, Menzel starred with actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway in Wicked, a musical by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman based upon Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995). Menzel received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. During her penultimate performance of Wicked on January 8, 2005, she fell through a trap door and cracked a lower rib. The injury prevented her from performing in her final show on January 9. Menzel did, however, make a special out-of-costume appearance at that performance, performed her final song, and received a five-minute standing ovation. Menzel was replaced by Elphaba standby Shoshana Bean.
Following Wicked, Menzel appeared off-Broadway in the Public Theater's production of See What I Wanna See, a Michael John LaChiusa-penned musical whose run ended in December 2005, for which she received Drama Desk Award and Drama League Award nominations. She reprised her Tony Award-winning role as Elphaba in the West End production of Wicked when it opened at London's Apollo Victoria Theatre on September 7, 2006. During her run, she was the highest-paid female performer in the West End at $30,000 per week. Menzel finished her West End run on December 30, 2006. She was succeeded by Elphaba standby Kerry Ellis.
On February 28, 2013, it was announced that Menzel would make her return to the Broadway stage, starring as Elizabeth in the new Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey musical If/Then. The new musical, directed by Michael Greif (whom Menzel previously worked with in the original production of Rent), had its world premiere at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., starting with previews on November 5, 2013, till November 24, 2013. Following the out-of-town tryout, the show moved to the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway and began previews on March 4, 2014. It officially opened on March 30, 2014. For her performance, Menzel was nominated for her second Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.
Menzel's film roles include appearances in Just a Kiss, Kissing Jessica Stein, The Tollbooth, Water, Ask the Dust, Enchanted, Frozen, and Rent, in which she and five other original cast members reprised their stage roles. As a singer, Menzel is known for her wide vocal range and her use of the 'belt' technique.
Menzel performed at the 1998 Lilith Fair summer concert festival and continues to write and perform original music. She has toured extensively and frequently performs in various venues throughout New York City. She produced and released her debut album, Still I Can't Be Still, for Hollywood Records in 1998. One single from the album, "Minuet", made the Radio & Records CHR/Pop Tracks chart at #48 in October 1998.
Her second album, Here, was released independently by Zel Records in 2004. Menzel has contributed to soundtracks, including those for the film The Other Sister and the ABC television dramedy Desperate Housewives. She also appears on Ray Charles's album Genius and Friends, which was released in 2005, on the track "I Will Be There." In 2007, she appeared on the Beowulf soundtrack singing the end credits song, "A Hero Comes Home". Also in 2007, Menzel's powerful singing voice led her to be asked to accompany the baritone British X-Factor runner-up Rhydian Roberts on his debut album, duetting on the song "What If".
In 2005, Menzel reprised her role as Maureen Johnson in the movie version of "Rent" along with five of her original cast mates. The film debuted on November 23, 2005.
Her third solo album, I Stand, was released on January 29, 2008. It includes many new songs, including the lead single, "Brave", the title track "I Stand", and a song released on EP, "Gorgeous". The album debuted at #58 in the Billboard 200, making it the first solo album by Menzel to make the charts. There are five versions of this album: the original version, the special limited edition, the iTunes version, the Barnes & Noble edition, and the Borders edition. Menzel wrote many of the songs on her album.
On April 1, 2008, Menzel kicked off her 2008-2009 "I Stand Tour" in support of her new album performing four sold-out legs. The concert at Rose Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City was filmed for the PBS television series Soundstage. Menzel was joined by special guests, superstar Josh Groban and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane.
On November 11, 2008, Menzel released "Hope", written by Paul Hampton, benefitting Stand Up to Cancer. On November 27, 2008, she performed "I Stand" on the M&M Candies float as part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Menzel has a recurring guest star role in the television series Glee, playing Shelby Corcoran, the coach of the rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline. When the series first premiered, Glee fans had noted a strong physical resemblance between Menzel and Lea Michele who portrays the character Rachel Berry. According to her husband, actor Taye Diggs, Menzel expressed interest in possibly guest starring as the biological mother of Rachel. The character was introduced in the April 13, 2010, episode "Hell-O", and it was revealed in the May 18, 2010, episode, "Dream On", that Shelby is, in fact, Rachel's biological mother, having answered an ad from Rachel's two gay dads looking for a 'mother' to help them have a baby. Lea Michele and Idina Menzel sing together "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables and "Poker Face" originally by Lady Gaga. Menzel returned to Glee in Season 3 episode "I Am Unicorn", her role this time as a teacher causing trouble for Rachel, Quinn, Puck, and former flame Will Schuster.
On July 19, 2010, Menzel performed "Defying Gravity" and "What I Did For Love" in front of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House. The concert aired on PBS October 20, 2010.
In April 2010, Menzel returned to concert stage embarking on her "Barefoot at the Symphony Tour", which she was accompanied by major symphony orchestras. Her performances included collaborations with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the North Carolina Symphony. In October 2011, Menzel returned to London to perform a one night only concert in the United Kingdom at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Marvin Hamlisch conducting. Menzel's concert stop in Toronto was filmed at The Royal Conservatory of Music on November 17 and 18, 2011, for her second PBS special. She was accompanied by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony with Marvin Hamlisch conducting and special guest Taye Diggs, Menzel's husband. Idina Menzel Live: Barefoot at the Symphony was released as a live CD and DVD and air on PBS in March 2012.
Menzel announced she will continue live performances in 2012. The first date she announced was July 8, 2012, at Ravinia Festival near Chicago, Illinois. She made her Carnegie Hall solo debut (originally on October 29, 2012). However, due to Hurricane Sandy's impact on New York City, it was postponed until January 13, 2013.
Menzel toured Australia in June 2013 with shows in South Australia, Melbourne, Brisbane, and two at the Sydney Opera House.
Menzel voiced the character of Queen Elsa in the Disney-animated film Frozen, which was released on November 22, 2013. The film received near universal critical acclaim. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 89 percent of critics gave the film a positive review based on 152 reviews, with an average score of 7.7/10, making it the highest-rated family film in 2013. The site's consensus reads: "Beautifully animated, smartly written, and stocked with singalong songs, Frozen adds another worthy entry to the Disney canon." Her performance received praise from film critics, frequently focused on her performance of "Let It Go"; one reviewer described it as a "powerhouse".
She was invited to perform "Let It Go" at the 86th Academy Awards in March 2014, where the song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. When John Travolta announced her before she sang the song, he incorrectly introduced her as 'Adele Dazeem'. The slip-up became a popular Internet meme. According to a source for E!, Menzel was not upset about the mishap. In response to the misnaming, she reportedly printed up satirical playbills that promoted her name as Adele Dazeem, noting her past work in Nert (Rent), Wicked-ly (Wicked) and Farfignugen (Frozen). Three days after the ceremony, Travolta publicly apologized to Menzel for mispronouncing her name.
On June 17, 2014, during a concert at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, Menzel confirmed she is working in a Christmas album that would contain original material to be released later that same year. In that concert, she performed one of the original tunes from the album, December Prayer. Menzel's next album, Holiday Wishes, is scheduled for an October 14th 2014 release.
Menzel's voice type is often a subject of dispute among music and theatre critics. While most believe that Menzel is a soprano, others, generally book authors, have argued that the singer is rather a mezzo-soprano. Describing Menzel as a loud, "full-volume soprano" similar to Broadway actress Ethel Merman, Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote of Menzel's voice, "The sound she creates when she belts in her high soprano register is a primal cry embedded in her being that insists that we listen and pay attention." Holden continued, "Depending on the song, [her voice] can sound babyish and demanding, or it can sound grand and imperial."
On her own vocal technique, Menzel revealed that she prefers to avoid moving her shoulders while singing, telling The Philippine Star, "I actually try to take a smaller breath for a bigger, longer note because there’s less air that will come pummeling out.” Professionally trained as a classical singer from age eight, Menzel decided to pursue other genres, specifically R&B and jazz, when she entered high school. Upon becoming a wedding singer, Menzel was eventually exposed to a wide variety of genres, ranging from jazz and rock to Motown.
Menzel married actor Taye Diggs on January 11, 2003. They met in 1995 during the original production of Rent, in which Diggs portrayed the role of Benjamin Coffin III, the landlord. They have a son, Walker Nathaniel Diggs, born on September 2, 2009. In late 2013, it was reported that Menzel and Diggs had separated after ten years of marriage.
Menzel was an honorary chair of the Imperial Court of New York's Annual Charity Coronation Ball, Night of A Thousand Gowns on March 21, 2009. Other honorary chairs for the evening's charity event included Elton John, Patti LuPone, John Cameron Mitchell, Joan Rivers and Robin Strasser.
On May 17, 2009, Menzel performed at a special benefit concert in Atlanta, Georgia to raise money for the Pace Academy Diversity Program in coordination with the Ron Clark Academy. The event resulted in the funding of two scholarships for Ron Clark Academy students to attend Pace Academy. The event was organized and hosted by Philip McAdoo, a former Rent cast member and current Diversity Program Director at Pace Academy.
In 2010, Menzel founded the A BroaderWay Foundation with then-husband Taye Diggs as a means of supporting young people in the arts. A BroaderWay sponsors camp programs, theater workshops, innovative educational programming and offers scholarships and opportunities to experience professional performances. In Summer 2011, Camp BroaderWay welcomed young girls from under-served metro New York communities to a 10-day performing arts camp, run by Menzel and a team of acclaimed professional Broadway artists including Taye Diggs. During this camp the girls collaborated with Broadway artists to write an original musical that was performed at a theatre in New York. The camp was held at Belvoir Terrace Summer Camp in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Menzel has long-championed LGBT rights by partnering with organizations like The Trevor Project, the Give A Damn Campaign (filming a public service announcement and designing a T-shirt) and the NOH8 Campaign, posing for one of their trademark duct-taped silence photos.
|Start year||Production||Role||Notes and awards|
|2000||Wild Party, TheThe Wild Party||Kate|
|2000||Summer of '42||Dorothy|
|2002||Vagina Monologues, TheThe Vagina Monologues||Performer|
|2002||Funny Girl (concert)||Fanny Brice|
|2005||See What I Wanna See||Kesa /|
The Wife (Lily) /
The Actress (Deanna)
|2008||Chess in Concert (concert)||Florence Vassy|
|2001||Kissing Jessica Stein||Bridesmaid|
|2002||Just a Kiss||Linda|
|2004||Tollbooth, TheThe Tollbooth||Raquel Cohen-Flaxman|
|2005||Rent||Maureen Johnson||Nominated – 2005 Northeastern Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress|
Nominated – 2005 Northeastern Critics Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
|2006||Ask the Dust||Vera Rivkin|
|2007||ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway||as Herself||Recorded her own rendition of "Lullaby of Broadway" for the end credits|
|2013||Frozen||Elsa, The Snow Queen||Voice|
|1998||Hercules: The Animated Series||Circe||1 episode|
|2004||Rescue Me||Carol||1 episode|
|2005||Kevin Hill||Francine Prescott||2 episodes|
|2009||Private Practice||Lisa King||2 episodes|
|2009||Great Performances||Florence Vassy||1 episode|
|2010–present||Glee||Shelby Corcoran||12 episodes|
|2010||Wonder Pets||The Queen of Hearts||1 episode, Adventures in Wonderland, special guest star|
|2010||Sesame Street||Herself||1 episode|
|2011||The Glee Project||Herself||Season 1 episode 2: "Theatricality"|
|2013||Disney Infinity||Elsa, The Snow Queen||Video game|
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