A Beginner's Guide To Idina Menzel
One of the most highly-anticipated performances at the Oscars this Sunday will be Idina Menzel's rendition of "Let It Go," her nominated song from Frozen — that is, if you're a musical theater fan. If you're not, then Menzel is just a Lea Michele lookalike singing that song you haven't been able to get out of your head ever since people started posting the African tribal cover on Facebook. If that sounds like you, don't worry, because here's everything you need to know about Idina Menzel, Oscar singer, Frozen star, and all-around musical genius:
1. She's A Musical Theater Icon
Even if you've never heard of Menzel, you've definitely heard her voice. The singer/actress is the force behind songs like "Defying Gravity" and "Take Me or Leave Me," along with several other iconic pieces of musical theater. She first gained fame in the '90s for her Broadway debut as Maureen in Rent, the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that won millions of fans and made "no day but today" the original "YOLO." Years after its last Broadway show, Rent is still hugely popular, due in large part to the legacy of Menzel's Tony-nominated performance.
After Rent, Menzel went on to star in Broadway productions of Aida and Hair, among others, but her next big breakthrough didn't come until 2003, with Wicked. Alongside Kristen Chenoweth, Menzel starred in the tourist-loved show for two years, winning a Tony for her performance. As anyone who's ever been to New York City knows, Wicked is huge, and while there have been several other Elphabas since Menzel left the stage, it's her incredible performance that'll forever be associated with the Wicked Witch of the West.
2. She Starred in Frozen
The reason Menzel's performing at the Oscars has nothing to do with her Broadway gigs, though, but all to do with a little animated movie you may have heard something about. In Disney's blockbuster Frozen, Menzel voiced Elsa, the Snow Queen whose magical ability to create ice and snow wreak havoc on her town. There's a million things about the film to love, from the feminist storyline to the gorgeous visuals to the lovably naive Olaf ("Oh, look at that. I've been impaled."), and Menzel's stunning, passionate voicework for Elsa is one of the highlights. Thanks to her vocals, "Let It Go," the most powerful song from Frozen, has taken on a life of its own, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
3. She Had Roles in Enchanted and Glee
Elsa may be Menzel's most popular role to date, but it's far from the performer's only major non-Broadway gig. In 2001, she made her film debut as a bridesmaid in Kissing Jessica Stein, and since then, she'd had roles in The Tollbooth and on Private Practice, among others. Before Frozen, her biggest roles were playing Nancy in Enchanted and Shelby on Glee. In the latter, Menzel played Rachel (Lea Michele)'s biological mother, and the lookalikes' being related was the only believable story twist that Glee has ever seen.
4. She Was Married to Taye Diggs
Menzel is well-known for her off-screen life, as well. In 2003, she married actor Taye Diggs (How Stella Got Her Groove Back), whom she met while performing in Rent (Diggs played Benny). Six years later, the couple had a son, Walker. For years, Menzel and Diggs' marriage looked pitch-perfect, with chemistry-laden duets, public proclamations of love, and even adorable airport-set thank you videos to fans. The duo appeared to be one of Hollywood's most stable, talented couples, until suddenly, in December 2013, they announced their split. The separation of Broadway's biggest power couple came as a shock to fans, and nearly three months later, there's no sign of reunion. Still, we can always hold out hope; Menzel and Diggs were one of our favorite celebrity pairs, and the idea that they'll no longer be practicing the "Tango Maureen" every day (or so we assumed) is too heartbreaking to imagine.
Images: Walt Disney