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February 6, 2011


Concert recap: Idina Menzel with Marvin Hamlish and New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall

by Jesse North

idina menzel concert lincoln center new york philharmonic marvin hamlisch wicked rent defying gravity elphaba musical wizard ozIt was an evening that would make any performer green. Tony winner Idina Menzel, famed for her emerald-skinned turn as Elphaba in Wicked, made her New York Philharmonic debut Saturday night at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. Yet in an environment of elegance and sophistication, Menzel was geeking out over her conductor. Well, in her defense, the conductor was Marvin Hamlisch.

The EGOT winner (30 Rock-speak for someone who has won all four Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards) and composer of A Chorus Line and many Barbra Streisand standards was on the receiving end of many gushings from Menzel throughout the concert. At one point, she asked for permission to climb up onto his conductor’s podium so that she may kiss him. Hamlisch obliged, and the embrace evoked a collective “Aww” from the sold-out house.

In addition to her songs, which included musical theater classics and selections from Rent and Wicked, Menzel was in great comedic spirit. Taking long breaks between songs, she told stories of her youth (her family’s most requested song of hers was “The Way We Were”), her life with husband Taye Diggs and 17-month-old son Walker (she and Diggs compose original lullabies and argue over who gets to vocally shine), and of her career (singing for Streisand at the Kennedy Center and being upstaged by Beyonce).

Menzel’s comedy was well received by the Lincoln Center audience, which can typically be an upturned-nose crowd. She embodied a jovial attitude that mixed well with her elegance. Menzel took the stage (barefoot) in an elegant and simple white dress with a thin black belt. Her radiance was a reflection of the night—a special achievement in her career.

She began with “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked and quickly moved onto Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale,” which she performed in a mash up with Sting’s “Roxanne.” One of her few breaks from comedic anecdotes preceded “No Day But Today” from Rent. Noting the weight of this Lincoln Center performance for her, she referenced Rent composer Jonathan Larson’s sudden death of an aortic aneurysm when Rent was in previews. She explained how that ordeal, for her and the rest of the original cast, taught them to live in the moment, and that she was utilizing that philosophy for this performance.

Menzel continued with the arrangement of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” that she and Lea Michele sang together when she guest starred on Glee. She interlaced the song with narrative about her experience on the show, noting how inappropriate she thought the song choice was for what was a mother-daughter reunion scene. Menzel echoed what undoubtedly every person in the audience was thinking—that she got the esteemed New York Philharmonic to play Lady Gaga.

Wrapping up her set, the stage lights dimmed and Menzel turned off her microphone. Using only the expertly crafted acoustics of Avery Fisher Hall, Menzel sang an a cappella version of Wicked’s “For Good.” With her voice effectively reaching every corner of the venue, it made for a powerful moment. After surprising the crowd with this bold, graceful move, Menzel then amped up the volume with her signature number, “Defying Gravity.” For her encore, Hamlisch, the piano impresario himself, took to the 88s while Menzel sang his “What I Did For Love,” from A Chorus Line. To close the show, Menzel sang Annie’s “Tomorrow,” which she dedicated to her mother.

Set list:
“The Life of the Party” from The Wild Party
“I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked
“Love For Sale” from The New Yorkers / “Roxanne” by Sting
“No Day But Today” from Rent
“Look To The Rainbow” from Finian’s Rainbow
“Poker Face” as performed on Glee
“Funny Girl” from Funny Girl
“Don’t Rain On My Parade” from Funny Girl
“For Good” from Wicked
“Defying Gravity” from Wicked
“What I Did For Love” from A Chorus Line
“Tomorrow” from Annie

Were you at Idina Menzel’s Lincoln Center concert, Rushers? What was you favorite song she performed? Did you think her stories were funny? Was it a thrill to see Marvin Hamlisch live? Leave your wicked love for Idina in the comments below!

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cassie
    Feb 6 2011

    She opened the show with Life of the Party from ‘The Wild Party’

    The show was amazing. I sat close to Taye Diggs and her mother. They looked very proud.

    Also the director of Rent was in the audience.

    • Feb 6 2011

      Thanks, Cassie! I knew one of my readers would know what she opened with. Making the change now. So glad you enjoyed the show! Wow, you must have had a great seat! Fantastic!

  2. Feb 6 2011

    Loved it. Loved her stories. She really appeared grateful and real. She’s a great talent. Saw her in ‘RENT’, ‘See What I Want to See’, and ‘Wicked’…

  3. Arlene
    Feb 6 2011

    I saw Idina at Lincoln Center tonight! She was WONDERFUL!
    She has the most amazing voice – I have followed her since I saw
    her in “Wicked” on Broadway. I love her CD – “I Stand”!
    My only regret is that she didn’t sing any songs from “I Stand”.
    I was hoping to hear her sing – I Stand, Brave or anything from that
    She has truly one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard.
    AND she seems so down to earth – loved her stories about being
    nervous before certain performances

  4. Carole
    Feb 6 2011

    She was awesome!

    Her unbelievable voice enveloped the beautiful Avery Fisher Hall. She & Marvin Hamlisch were a perfect match & her comedy & wit made for the perfect night in NYC.

    It was so refreshing to see a performer who was in awe of her surroundings & seemed humbled.

  5. Barbara
    Feb 6 2011

    Seeing Idina Menzel perform last night with the Philharmonic is one of those uniquely special experiences that makes you proud to live in NYC. She was spectacular. The entire show — including the charismatic, clever Marvin Hamlisch — was dazzling from beginning to end. I only wish it had been taped — everyone should see this kind of talent. Bravo Idina — you made all of us who love you very proud.

  6. Kristen
    Feb 6 2011

    Yeah she was awesome!! And the audience was awesome too! I think she also sang a song called “Asleep On The Wind”. But I donno where it would fit into the set list. I’ve never heard it before but I love it!!

  7. Devon
    Feb 6 2011

    Yeah, I remember Sleep on the Wind also, and hadn’t heard it before. It was beautiful though, and I’d like to know what it was.

    • lori
      Feb 15 2011

      I remember that song too and when i saw her perform it i FELL IN LOVE with it but i cant find the song any where!!!!!!

      • lori
        Feb 15 2011

        I FOUND IT! its Asleep On The Wind by Jimmy Webb

  8. george renert
    Feb 8 2011

    The show sucked , Menzel acted like a spoiled brat , immature , childish , playing to the tinny boppers who shrieked at every opportunity . She underutilized the great NY Philharmonic and was condescending to the venue , the orchestra and even to Avery Fisher who was the major contributor to build the hall . Her stories were boring and a waste of my time . In short high expectations were met with an amateur hour. Please give me a refund .

  9. sdfghjkl
    Feb 9 2011

    It was an AMAZİNG performance. I came all the way from Vancouver to see the show and it was everything I had hoped for. Idina Menzel sounded and looked beautiful. Her presence was so graceful and stil upbeat. She was so down to earth and yet she is the most talented vocal performer I have ever come across. And the soul she adds to her flawless technique just adds up to a sold out philharmonic collaboration at the Avery Fisher hall I guess =) Loved every second of it. I hope I will be lucky enough to meet her again someday.

  10. Feb 13 2011

    So I saw her at the Mann Center in Philly a few months back. She was amazing and did a great job. I’m sure it was a very different crowd because once the audience (ME) was yelling/cheering “I Love You Idina” at her she paused her story and said. “You don’t shout at someone in a gown! Look at these shoes! I mean come on.” Which then in turn made me, I mean the audience, shout in laughter even more. lol


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