John Travolta memorably mangled Idina Menzel’s name during the Oscars on March 3 and that may have been rough for Menzel right before she belted out the hit tune from Disney’s “Frozen.” But in the silver lining department, it could actually be a good thing for “If/Then,” the upcoming Broadway musical in which Menzel stars.
The latest work by the creative team of Pulitzer winner “Next to Normal,” “If/Then” begins previews this week as the spring’s only new musical not attached to a big-name Hollywood property. Whereas “Rocky,” “Aladdin,” “Bullets Over Broadway” and the just-opened “The Bridges of Madison County” can all capitalize on a high level of audience familiarity, “If/Then” must try to turn Broadway theatergoers’ heads without that leg up.
The only new tuner of the spring not adapted from a pre-existing source, “If/Then” can position itself as the entirely original, prestige title of the season, especially since it comes from creatives that have already scored the Pulitzer stamp of approval. Menzel, the “Frozen” star who is one of Broadway’s reigning divas even after almost a decade away from its stages, also has a rabid following with a surprisingly wide reach thanks to her career-making perfs in “Rent” and “Wicked.”
But Travolta’s slip-up made Menzel an even hotter Oscar topic than she might have been otherwise. Her name was already trending on Twitter prior to her “Frozen” perf, but the flub suddenly attracted attention to her even from those watchers who didn’t know who she was. (Soon Adele Dazeem, the name Travolta substituted for Menzel’s, also trended on Twitter.)
Menzel was already hitting new heights of popularity thanks to her performance in Disney smash “Frozen,” which recently passed $1 billion at the worldwide box office. But chances are, even more people know who Menzel is now.
That additional jolt to the performer’s public profile seems like it can only help “If/Then.” The musical may not have the marketing muscle of a familiar movie title behind it, but with the success of “Frozen” and Oscar night flub, the show nonetheless has some Hollywood recognition going for it now.