Idina Menzel showcases powerhouse voice in Raleigh

Reviewed by Lincoln Pennington
Teens & 20s correspondent
teens20@thetimesnews.com

RALEIGH — As the sun set at the Red Hat Amphitheater on Wednesday evening, Idina Menzel took the stage and sang “Defying Gravity,” which helped her win a Tony Award in 2004 for her performance in “Wicked.”

Before continuing with some of her most popular hits, Menzel sang two selections from her “I Stand” album — “Brave” and the title track. These personal tracks allowed Menzel to connect with the audience and get everyone fully engaged.

While the song choices during the show’s first half seemed scattered, it did include one of the singer’s best performances: a medley dedicated to Ethel Merman. Before beginning the number, Menzel said Merman doesn’t always get the recognition she deserves. The medley opened with “There’s No Business Like Show Business” then transitioned to “Anything Goes” before ending on “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”

The audience’s energy kicked up a notch later when Menzel began singing “Take Me or Leave Me,” a song she made famous as Maureen in “Rent.” However, she stopped halfway through the number, noting that the song was a duet.

The singer, who was barefoot at the time, put on slippers and marched into the audience to find assistance. Menzel chose three audience members with more confidence than most to help her sing the rest of the number onstage.

This moment was one of many reminders that Idina Menzel is extremely comfortable in her own skin. She spoke candidly throughout the show; she was not afraid of just being herself. She also rolled with the punches that come when you perform outdoors in downtown Raleigh. When a train blew its whistle right as she belted the end of her aforementioned medley, she joked, “I think the train was on key.”

While Menzel included plenty of her upbeat, powerhouse songs, she did take a moment to honor “Rent” creator Jonathan Larson. The singer sat on the stage for a moving and intimate rendition of the show’s “No Day But Today.”

However, she maintained the audience’s energy throughout and channeled it immediately into “Always Starting Over.” The song was written for her specifically as the 11 o’clock number in her most recent Broadway show “If/Then.”

Keeping with her musical theater roots, the singer performed an a capella version of “For Good” from “Wicked.” As not to disappoint many of the little children in the audience, Menzel ended her show with the “Frozen” hit “Let It Go.” She even invited the youngest audience members to join her upfront to sing.

No show today is complete without an encore, though, so the singer returned for one final number. She said the song was her “Let It Go” when she was a child. She then performed a classic rendition of “Tomorrow” from “Annie” before taking a final bow. The surprising final selection encapsulated the entire experience.

It was impossible all night to predict what Menzel would do next, but if you just went with it, the journey was enjoyable.

Lincoln Pennington is a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and a Teens & 20s writer.

 

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