Gleeks and Elphaba enthusiasts are flocking to the Apollo theatre this week as original Wicked witch Idina Menzel returns to the West End to cast her spell over audiences in a series of live concerts.
Accompanied by a 25-piece orchestra, the Tony Award-winning star performs a selection of songs that have defined her career, from the Oz-set musical’s The Wizard And I and Defying Gravity to Glee’s Don’t Rain On My Parade to A Chorus Line’s What I Did For Love, U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For/In Your Eyes, as well as an exclusive new song never performed on stage before.
As she playfully jokes about the looks of the orchestra’s horn players and pokes fun at a man in the front row, her witty and bubbly personality shines through, reminding us that, despite her fame, she is just a normal person; a normal person who can really sing, that is. But she doesn’t steal all of the attention, plucking a number of lucky and surprisingly talented individuals from the audience to join her in performing Rent duet Take Me Or Leave Me, kindly sharing the limelight with what she – and probably everyone else in the audience – believes will be the stars of the future.
Throughout the musical evening, Menzel opens her heart as well as her mouth, as she talks about the first time she met her husband, her three-year-old son and the people she has met during her career. She has come a long way since her teenage years as a wedding singer, that’s for sure.
Possibly the most moving moments of the show come when the singer pays tribute to two inspirational composers who have made a significant impact on her life, honouring close friend Marvin Hamlisch, who died earlier this year, with a heartfelt rendition of A Chorus Line’s At The Ballet, and Rent’s Jonathan Larson with the rock musical’s hit Another Day.
Though it is Menzel who is best known for playing Wicked’s infamous green-skinned witch, her spell-binding voice, infectious personality and genuine kindness has everyone in the auditorium turning a similar shade with envy.