Idina Menzel (born May 30, 1971), born Idina Kim Mentzel, is a Tony
Award-winning American actress, singer and songwriter. She is widely known
for originating the roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked.
Idina Menzel was born on Long Island, New York. Idina Menzel's mother, Helene, is a therapist, and her father, Stuart Mentzel, worked as a pajama salesman. Idina Menzel was raised in Syosset, New York with her younger sister Cara and later changed her last name (Mentzel) because of constant mispronunciation. When Idina 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. Idina Menzel 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, Idina 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, Idina 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, Idina released her first solo album entitled "Still I Can't Be Still" on "HollyWood Records", Idina also originated the role of Dorothy in Summer of í42 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. Idina 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, Idina starred alongside fellow actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway in Wicked, a musical by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman based upon the popular 1995 Gregory Maguire novel. Idina 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. Idina did, however, make a special out-of-costume appearance at that performance, performed her final song, and received a 5 minute long standing ovation. Idina was replaced by Elphaba standby Shoshana Bean.
Following Wicked, Idina 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. Idina finished her run on December 30, 2006. Idina was then succeeded by Elphaba standby Kerry Ellis.
Idina played the role of Florence in the 21st Anniversary concert of Chess at the Royal Albert Hall, London from May 12, 2008 through May 13, 2008 alongside Kerry Ellis, Adam Pascal and Josh Groban
In 2008, Idina headlined the Powerhouse Theatre's reading of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's musical Nero from July 11 to July 13, performing the role of Neroís mistress Poppea.
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.
Idina 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 Canít 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. Idina 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 Idina 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 Idina 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, Idina kicked off her "I Stand" tour in support of her new album.
On November 11, 2008, Idina 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, Idina performed "I Stand" on the M&M Candies float as part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Idina 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 Idina 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.
Idina 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.
This Idina Menzel Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub