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Idina Menzel – The Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Amy Taylor


Broadway darling and one of the voices of her generation, Idina Menzel really doesn’t need an introduction. The multi-talented star of stage, silver screen and television is now a household name thanks to the many rôles that have made her career, such as Maureen Johnson in Rent, and most recently, Shelby (Rachel’s Mum) in Glee. It seems obvious, then, that there would be a lot of excitement for Menzel’s whistle-stop tour of the UK, with just one date in Scotland, and while some big names fail to deliver, Menzel definitely lives up to her well-deserved hype.

Beginning with a nod to her rôle as the very first Elphaba in Wicked, Menzel’s one woman show churns out a mix of some of her best known songs, including ‘Defying Gravity, ‘The Wizard and I’ from Wicked, and ‘Take Me Or Leave Me’ from Rent, which she performed with the help of a few enthusiastic and very talented young audience members. Other musical highlights included brief snippets of some of her work as a wedding and Bar mitzvah singer as a teenager, namely ‘Let’s Dance Let’s Shout (Shake Your Body Down to the Ground)’ by the Jackson 5, and a brief foray into Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’. But Menzel’s set also included some more traditional songs, with her fusion of Cole Porter’s ‘Love For Sale’ and The Police’s Roxanne proving to be extremely haunting.

However, while Menzel is undoubtedly an accomplished singer, and has an unbelievable stage presence, it’s her energy, humour and overall manner that make her live shows so memorable. Performing with a live orchestra comprised of musicians from the US and from the UK, Menzel’s relaxed and warm style gives her the kind of edge that some performers can only ever dream of. Warm, mesmerising and always moving, Menzel manages to be both uplifting and heartbreaking in her performance, as some of her best known numbers are supported by more solemn and emotional numbers, namely ‘What I Did For Love’ and ‘At The Ballet’ from the musical, A Chorus Line, written by her friend and collaborator, the late Marvin Hamlisch, who died in August. Whatever your musical tastes, an evening in the company of Idina Menzel ensures that you will hear an eclectic range of songs and experience a wealth of emotions all thanks to one wonderful singer and her fabulous sense of humour.

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