It’s been two years since John Travolta’s big flub at the Oscars, mistakenly introducing “Adele Dazeem,” but Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel still laughs about it.
“I think it’s the greatest mistake that could have ever happened,” the Tony winner said in a telephone interview. “Before, I wasn’t necessarily a household name. In certain circles people knew me well (and the) people who knew me were upset and in an uproar.”
People still slip up now and then on her name, but it’s Menzel’s voice they never forget.
She created the role of Maureen in Jonathan Larson’s hit, “Rent,” and would take home Broadway’s highest honor as Elphaba in “Wicked,” opposite Kristin Chenoweth. But, an entire generation of little girls will associate her voice with “Elsa” in Disney’s smash animated musical, “Frozen.” She expects to be back in the studio this summer recording the highly-anticipated sequel.
For now, Menzel is in the midst of a 52-city world tour that took the 45-year-old to Japan and back. Next week, she’ll be singing on the stage of the Au Rene Theater at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.
“We made a couple of changes as we came back to the states, and I think there’s a good balance of new arrangements, traditional older songs you would expect to hear and interesting covers….it is always a challenge to make things new for the audience—and myself—because I tour a lot,” Menzel said.
Pausing a moment, she added, “I don’t rest on my laurels, I like to do a new show, but not rearrange things too much since the audiences want to hear ‘Defying Gravity’ the way they want to hear it.”
She also sighed slightly when asked about her favorite character. She’s created some of the most iconic roles in American musical theater, after all.
“I sigh because I don’t want you to feel like you’re getting a cliché answer,” Menzel explained. “There’s not one, but there’s a pattern in my characters...amazing empowering, inspiring women. I’m so lucky because those particular characters speak to young people, but also speak to me and make me step outside of myself and into the Elsas and Elphabas and Maureens.”
For Menzel, the creative process is also important in selecting her projects. She enjoys being in a studio with great composers, joining them in “their creative sanctuaries.”
“When I’m a part of the workshop process, the early embryonic stages, I’m fortunate to hear the music for my character and (share) my input. It’s a beautiful dance, and five years later, we’re on a Broadway stage. It’s the best feeling,” she said.
Menzel’s son is now nearly eight years old, so she must juggle the demands of motherhood with her career.
“It’s changed it a lot for the better. Before I was a mother, I was very regimented and disciplined in my preparation. When you’re on the road and have a baby, there’s only so much you can expect from yourself. When he gets up in the morning and has a fever, the priorities are set for you. (There’s only) so much I can do if you’ve only gotten a couple of hours of sleep,” she said, noting that the challenges have also afforded a new sense of freedom.
“I sort of welcome mistakes now, imperfection, because they invite the audience into your world and your soul,” Menzel said. “Sometimes the most incredible moments are when we’re not perfect, that’s what speaks to audiences.”
Idina Menzel will perform on Wednesday, May 24 at 8 p.m. at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets start at $69 at BrowardCenter.org.