Take her or leave her, living Broadway legend Idina Menzel gave a sold-out crowd of roughly 6,000 fans a show to remember Monday — when she performed at Radio City Music Hall for the first time in a one-night-only concert.
Idina Menzel: An Unofficial Countdown to “Let It Go” Live was, of course, incredible. The Tony winner showed off her mind-blowing vocal power in a variety of songs, kicking off the night with a chill-inducing “Defying Gravity” and segueing into everything from an Ethel Merman medley (the petition for Menzel to play Mama Rose in Gypsy one day begins now) to Radiohead’s “Creep.” (Yes, really.) Her pipes were even more impressive considering Menzel is currently starring on Broadway eight times a week in If/Then. Mondays are supposed to be her off night!
The audience covered a wide age demographic, from little girls dressed up as princesses to adults hoping she might break out a few hits from Rent; there was also a surprising amount of men in attendance, and not just dads accompanying their elementary-age daughters. Speaking of the children: This show was not meant for fans who only know Menzel by way of Queen Elsa and Elphaba. She covered “Love for Sale” and “Roxanne” in a “prostitution songs” medley, and, just a few minutes into her set, Menzel swore, paused, and then declared with a laugh, “I know we’ve got little kids here, but just hold their ears so I can do my thing.” Cue wild audience cheers.
The quips didn’t stop there: In between over two hours of powerhouse performances, Menzel acted like a total goof, whether she was giving a fake Tony acceptance speech (she lost this year’s Lead Actress in a Musical prize to Jessie Mueller of Beautiful) or pretending to call ex-husband Taye Diggs from stage (!!!) to remind him she was singing to a sold-out crowd. On a serious note, Menzel also turned introspective throughout the evening, covering Joni Mitchell and acknowledging that she’s in a time of “transition” — this year has brought both professional highlights and personal hard times.
Fans already know Menzel can sing (highlights included an a cappella “For Good” as well as a poignant and powerful “Always Starting Over“); below, read eight examples of the crazy stuff that happened Monday in between the songs. Turns out Menzel is both nuts and a goofball. Psst: Menzel also knows exactly how to handle a wardrobe malfunction.
8.) Call it the Frozen effect: Menzel announced she’ll release a Christmas album this year, which will include the original song “December Prayer.” (Her introduction to this information: “I’m Jewish, but…”) Before she began singing “December Prayer,” she made a joke about her breasts—then cut off the band after they had started playing, explaining she wanted to wait a beat before segueing into opening lyrics that involved the word “touch.”
7.) Never fear, Rent-heads. Menzel sang two numbers from her Broadway debut: a gorgeous “No Day But Today,” as well as a sassy “Take Me or Leave Me.” (Sadly, despite the loud moos of several audience members, Menzel didn’t perform “Over the Moon.”) For “Take Me or Leave Me,” she went into the audience and invited specific audience members to sing with her — including a pushy lady who volunteered her little girl, only to have
Mama Rose Mom sing most of the Joanne verse. And yes, Menzel totally called her on it.
6.) Menzel noted how proud she is that so many of her most popular songs are empowering and inspiring, calling out “Defying Gravity” specifically. But then she got real, discussing how she isn’t always as confident as those songs: “It’s not always easy to just let it go.” Menzel then revealed that her next number was Radiohead’s “Creep”: “This is my anti-empowerment song!”
5.) About that aforementioned wardrobe malfunction: Menzel changed dresses halfway through the show (more on that later). The second ensemble featured a black leather bra top. The only problem? It wasn’t totally secure, as the audience informed Menzel when she sashayed back to center stage. “My boobs are coming out!” she exclaimed with a laugh. “…F— it, they’re real!” She seemed thrown for a moment, questioning just how many audience members saw anything on the huge screens on either side of the stage. (For what it’s worth, Idina, my eyes were on you the whole time, and I didn’t notice anything.)
4.) Paranoia about the all-seeing screens came back a bit later, when Menzel glanced up to look at herself in her stunning silver sparkling gown. “I don’t like my panty lines!” she announced, running offstage to get rid of the offending undergarments.
3.) Last week, Menzel sat in the audience at Radio City at the Tony Awards — where she learned that Mueller had beaten her for Lead Actress. Because she was back at the same venue just a week later, she decided to reenact the moment — but this time with a different outcome. She sat in an audience member’s lap, had him announce her as the winner, then took to the stage for a long faux acceptance speech. “Is this bit getting old?” she joked after a few minutes of sincere thank yous.
2.) Partway through the show, Menzel held an intermission — or fauxmission. She announced that while she’d be taking a brief break, she wouldn’t be leaving the stage because she didn’t want the audience’s energy to come down or attention to come off of her. So a changing screen was brought out as an assistant helped Menzel switch gowns; all the while, she continued to vamp with the audience. She then appeared in a slinky black robe and sat down on a couch to rest for a moment, leading to…
1.) …Menzel explaining she was going to call her 4-year-old son to tell him good night, mentioning he was with his father. She made a call to someone the audience assumed was Diggs, asking him to put Walker on the phone and saying she didn’t have time to talk because “right now I’m at Radio City….playing my show…[to a] sold-out crowd.” After a back and forth that prompted plenty of gasps, Menzel revealed the call was a fake. But still: Point Menzel. #BroadwayDivaFTW
The show — which also featured deep cuts from Menzel’s not-exactly-blockbuster previous solo albums — ended (pre-encore) the only way it possibly could have, with Menzel belting her worldwide hit, “Let It Go.” Courtesy of Just Jared, here’s Menzel’s performance of the ubiquitous song.