There was a lovefest the other night at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts where Idina Menzel made a stop on her cross-country concert tour. As soon as the Broadway and television star entered center stage, fronting the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, the audience erupted in applause and adoration. A Tony Award winning actress for Wicked, Menzel has gained greater popularity for her appearances on the television show Glee. Leveraging this populous fame, the newly minted Dr. Menzel (having received an honorary doctorate earlier in the day from C.W. Post University) has embarked on her current concert schedule.
The intermission-less, one and one-half hour program included just over one dozen songs (not including the compositions she sang about her son, Walker), which I found to be slightly unfulfilling. There could have been less of the cute, sometimes self-deprecating and rambling, banter between numbers and more selections that featured her powerful, soaring soprano. Hearing the Long Island native live was truly an enthralling and entertaining experience. There are few performers, nowadays, that can captivate an audience singing a cappella in such a large venue (as she did with “For Good” from Wicked), belt one to the rafters (“Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl), or tenderly wrap a ballad together as she demonstrated with “Love for Sale” by Cole Porter.
The collection of songs mixed Broadway (“Look to the Rainbow” from Finian’s Rainbow and a number of songs from Wicked), pop (“Roxanne” by The Police and “Poker Face” from Lady Gaga) to her originally penned song, “Gorgeous.”
While I would have preferred more singing from Ms. Menzel, I did find her very open with a cheerful, playful personality. You could tell she was honestly happy to be performing for all the fans in attendance. Her heartfelt love to the audience was reciprocated many times over during the evening performance.
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra was a magnificent back-up to the singer. Their full, lush sound provided a thrilling complement to the vocal theatrics of Ms. Menzel. Let’s hope she keeps Hartford in mind for future visits.