Palace Theatre had a bit different crowd than that of Idina Menzel’s last concert in Columbus. For starters, the last time I sat among 5-year-olds dressed as Disney princesses at a concert, I was one of them.
Palace Theatre isn’t your typical venue. The elegant setting doesn’t give the rock-n’-roll, mosh-pit vibe. Walking into Palace Theatre, you suddenly feel as though anything could happen. Like maybe a concert starting on time.
Surprise, surprise! Menzel, like every performer, was late for her grand opening. Unlike every other performer though, Menzel wasn’t backstage doing drugs, drinking alcohol or just trying to make a big entrance. She had bigger problems — specifically, a 5-year-old son who kept her delayed. Menzel later apologized for the delayed arrival.
In 2012, people watched a brunette Menzel rush the stage and begin her performance. This time, a blonde dressed in a black-and-gold gown entered and suddenly the room came alive.
The song “Defying Gravity” allowed Menzel to introduce herself as the high-belting, Broadway legend everyone knows her to be. Applause filled the theater, and the show began.
For 20 years, Menzel has worked in everything from stage and television to movies and more, but after John Travolta butchered her name at the Oscars, she became the entertainment world’s (not so) new “It Girl”.
Jumping from fast to slow, high to low, fun to serious, Menzel showcased a wide variety of work from her career. She highlighted songs from her albums “Still I Can’t be Still” and “I Stand” and brought Christmas to August with a song from “Holiday Wishes.” She even threw in the occasional rock ballad with renditions of “Creep” by Radiohead and “Roxanne” by The Police.
Menzel conveyed sincerity. She chatted with the audience, kicked off her heels, laughed so hard she snorted, admitted to mistakes, both in her life and during the show. Fans weren’t just watching a concert — they became a part of it.
Menzel even had a few fun tricks up her sleeve. “Take Me or Leave Me,” a hit song she performed with Fredi Walker in the musical “Rent,” has been covered by hundreds of artists and fans. However, not many have the chance to say they sang it with the original Maureen herself. A few lucky fans got that chance when Menzel walked into the audience and looked for duet partners.
Menzel handed over her microphone and allowed a few others to share a moment in her spotlight, giving the audience a chance to let loose and become part of the fun. It’s not very often a performer allows someone else to steal the show or even perform in it, but Menzel isn’t just a performer. She’s a revolutionist, changing the way we enjoy concerts.
Her shining moment came when she did something only the bravest singers dare to do: She performed a cappella without a microphone.
“I have been changed for good.” That line from the last song, “For Good,” from “Wicked,” summed up Menzel’s performance for so many that it was almost poetic.
Let’s not forget about the young fans in the audience; the fans who stayed up past their bedtimes to watch Queen Elsa herself. Those little girls and boys got a very special treat. They were asked to join Menzel on stage to sing “Let It Go.” While normally every parent might cringe at the thought of hearing it for the billionth time, these parents, and everyone else, instead got to watch childhood dreams come true right before their very eyes.
Saying goodbye isn’t easy, but after a performance like this, Menzel did it so well audience members walked out not with feelings of sadness or defeat, but with exhilaration. The show would, in some way, indeed go on, probably as “Let It Go” played in the car ride home.
To recent fans, she is the voice of Elsa, a role that gave her superstardom. To some she’s Elphaba, the green girl from Broadway’s adaptation of “Wicked,” which won her a Tony. To fans who can remember the ‘90s she’s Maureen, the bisexual, free-spirited New Yorker in the Broadway cult classic “Rent.” She’s a woman of multiple names and faces — and, apparently, hair color — the woman who gave everyone something to sing about, the queen herself, the wickedly talented Adele Dazeem.
To others though, she’s just Idina — the performer who gives all she’s got onstage and isn’t afraid to defy gravity or let it go. Although not new to the scene, she’s certainly stealing it now.