Idina Kim Menzel (pronounced ; n?e Mentzel; born May 30, 1971) is a Tony Award-winning American actress, singer and songwriter. She is widely known for originating the roles of Maureen in Rent and the green-skinned Elphaba in Wicked.
Idina Menzel was born on Long Island, New York, of Jewish heritage. Her mother, Helene, is a therapist, and her father, Stuart Mentzel, worked as a pajama salesman. She was raised in Syosset, New York with her younger sister Cara and later changed her last name (Mentzel) because of constant mispronunciation. When Menzel was 15 years old, her parents divorced and she started 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. She earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Drama at NYU prior to being cast in Jonathan Larson's rock musical Rent. She was friends with actor Adam Pascal before they worked together in Rent.
In 1995, Menzel auditioned for Rent, which became her first professional theater job and her Broadway debut. After Rent opened off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop on January 26, 1996, it was 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. She completed her last performance 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 alongside fellow actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway in Wicked, a musical by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman loosely based upon the popular 1995 Gregory Maguire novel. Menzel received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. On her third to last 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 the January 9 show. Menzel did, however, make a special out-of-costume appearance at that performance, performed her final song, and received a 5 minute long 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 her role as various characters, 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 Theater on September 7, 2006. Menzel finished her run on December 30, 2006. Menzel was then succeeded by Elphaba standby Kerry Ellis.
Menzel played the role of Florence in the 21st Anniversary concert of Chess at the Royal Albert Hall, London from May 12-13, 2008 alongside Kerry Ellis, Adam Pascal and Josh Groban.
In 2008, Menzel headlined the Powerhouse Theatre's reading of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's musical Nero from July 11-13, performing the role of Nero?s mistress Poppea.
Film and singing career
Menzel's film roles include appearances in Just a Kiss, Kissing Jessica Stein, Tollbooth, Water, Ask the Dust, Enchanted, and Rent, in which she and five other original cast members reprised their stage roles.
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. In 2007, she appeared on the Beowulf soundtrack singing the end credits song, "A Hero Comes Home".
Singer Ray Charles invited Menzel to duet with him on one of the tracks of his album Genius & Friends. The tracks were recorded in 1998 but were never produced, and it was one of his dying wishes that the album be made, a wish which was fulfilled posthumously.
Her third solo album, I Stand, was released on January 29, 2008. It includes many new tracks such as the lead single, "Brave" as well as 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.
On April 1, 2008, Menzel kicked off her "I Stand" tour in support of her new album.
On November 11, 2008, Menzel released a new single in conjunction with Major League Baseball. The single is entitled "Hope" and all proceeds go to Stand Up 2 Cancer.
On November 27, 2008, Menzel performed "I Stand" on the M&M Candies float as part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Menzel married actor Taye Diggs, her co-star from the original Broadway production of Rent, on January 11, 2003 after 7 years of dating. They have a Yorkshire Terrier named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. and two cats named Ella and Coltrane, whom they call their "Jazz Cats" because they were named after famous jazz performers. On December 6, 2004, it was reported by the New York Post that Menzel and Diggs were threatened with harm in a series of letters because of their interracial marriage. In March 2009 the couple announced that they are expecting their first child together. In April 2009, the couple announced that they are expecting a boy. Their son, Walker Nathaniel Diggs, was born on September 2, 2009. The news was first broken on Idina-Here.com's Twitter page in the early morning hours of September 3, 2009.
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 Sir Elton John CBE, Patti LuPone, John Cameron Mitchell, Joan Rivers and Dame Robin Strasser.
Notes and awards
Original Broadway Cast
New York Theatre Workshop (January 26, 1996 - March 31, 1996)
Nederlander Theatre (April 29, 1996 - July 1, 1997)
Nominated - 1996 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
The Wild Party
Performances: Manhattan Theatre Club Stage I (February 24, 2000 - April 9, 2000)
Nominated - 2000 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Summer of '42
Performances: The Norma Terris Theatre (August 10, 2000 - September 3, 2000)
Performances: New York City Center - (May 3, 2001 - May 7, 2001)
Replacement Broadway Cast
Performances: Palace Theatre (September 13, 2001 - January 27, 2002)
The Vagina Monologues
Performances: Westside Theatre (Downstairs) (March 5, 2002 - April 14, 2002)
Funny Girl (concert)
Performances: New Amsterdam Theatre (September 23, 2002)
Performed "Cornet Man"
Original Broadway cast
Performances: George Gershwin Theatre (October 30, 2003 - January 8, 2005)
Won - Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Won - Broadway.com Audience Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical
Won - Broadway.com Audience Award for Best Diva Performance
Won - Broadway.com Audience Award for Best Onstage Pair (with Kristin Chenoweth)
Nominated - Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Nominated - Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical
Nominated - Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance
See What I Wanna See
The Wife (Lily) /
The Actress (Deanna)
Performances: The Public Theater (October 30, 2005 - December 4, 2005)
Nominated - Drama Desk Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical
Nominated - Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance
Original London West End cast
Performances: Apollo Victoria Theatre (September 7, 2006 - December 30, 2006)
Won - WhatsOnStage.com Theatregoers Choice Award for Best Actress in a Musical
Chess in Concert (concert)
Performances: Royal Albert Hall (May 12, 2008 - May 13, 2008)
Performances: Powerhouse Theatre (July 11, 2008 - July 13, 2008)
Notes and awards
Kissing Jessica Stein
Just a Kiss
Nominated - 2005 Northeastern Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - 2005 Northeastern Critics Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated - 2005 Broadcast Film Critics Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated - 2005 Washington Film Critics Award for Best Ensemble
Ask the Dust
ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway
Recorded her own rendition of "Lullaby of Broadway" for the end credits
Hercules: The Animated Series
Episode ("Hercules and the Song of Circe")
Episodes ("Losing Isn't Everything", "Sacrificial Lambs")
Soundstage (TV program)
Episodes ("PBS Soundstage premiere January 15, 2009")
Episodes ("Do the Right Thing", "What You Do For Love")
Chess in Concert
Episode ("PBS Great Performances premiere June 17, 2009")
Released on region-free DVD (Reprise 2-517636)
All Idina Menzel lyrics
All lyrics are property of their respective owners and are strictly for non-commercial use only.