You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Concert Review: Idina Menzel at Radio City Music Hall

The 'Frozen' star set her fans squealing with a schizophrenic but generally entertaining evening of song on her night off from Broadway's 'If/Then.'

Idina Menzel.

Though she paused for only one costume change, Idina Menzel was an even greater study in multiple personalities during her solo Radio City Music Hall debut than in her current dual role in the musical “If/Then.” In between her two ubiquitous girl-power showtunes, “Defying Gravity” and the Oscar-winning “Let it Go,” the Broadway diva refashioned herself as a sultry torch singer, grungy indie rocker chick and even an ’80s pop balladeer, making for an uneven but generally entertaining evening of song that suggested there are few risks Menzel isn’t willing to take, even when caution might prove a virtue. The singer’s rabid fans (some of whom arrived carrying placards, and erupted into multiple standing ovations) hardly noticed the rough patches, but Menzel’s solo act could stand some fine tuning if she plans to take it on the road.

Taking to the stage in a shimmering, strapless, black-and-silver gown, Menzel seemed slightly agog at the sheer breadth of the Radio City stage (“You can’t do this at CBGB!”) and the cavernous reaches of the hall (“This is fucking huge!”), a mixture of sincerity and shtick that she maintained for much of the two-hour performance. Acknowledging the mild absurdity of being a teen idol at age 43, the brassy Long Island native (whose stage demeanor could be described as part Bette Midler, part Tony Soprano) cautioned parents of her younger fans to “hold their ears so I can do my thing,” shortly after confiding that the sold-put crowd surely contained at least five guys that she made out with in high school.

Flanked by a 34-piece orchestra under the musical direction of pianist Rob Mounsey, Menzel brought a big, booming sound to the likes of “Brave” (from her 2007 studio album, “I Stand”) and Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale,” the latter evolving into an unexpected but deft medley with The Police’s “Roxanne.” The singer delved further into the pop catalogue for a stirring rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now,” and looked to her own humble origins with “Still I Can’t Be Still,” the underwhelming title track from her 1998 debut album, which Menzel recalled performing in a Philadelphia club to a sparse crowd of teenage “Rent” fans attending with their parents. Rounding out the show’s first half, Menzel paid homage to a fellow diva, Ethel Merman, with a boisterous medley of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Anything Goes” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”

Throughout the night, Menzel seemed slightly stymied by the demands of belting out song after song in a concert setting, stretching out the beats between numbers with lots of off-the-cuff chatter that included tossing throat lozenges into the crowd and reminiscing about her early days as a wedding singer. Elsewhere, the show felt under-rehearsed (perhaps understandably, given Menzel’s current Broadway performance schedule), especially during a lengthy “intermission” section in which the singer asked the audience to remain seated while she changed her costume onstage, pretended to place a phone call to her four-year-old son in L.A., and lamented the difficulties of performing “happy” songs when things aren’t going great in your own life. The eventual payoff, a somewhat strained rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep,” sung by Menzel while curled up on a prop sofa, seemed hardly worth all the fuss.

But by the time Menzel was turning her signature “Rent” number, “Take Me Or Leave Me,” into an impromptu duet with random audience members, she’d clearly gotten her mojo back, and proceeded to barrel on through a lively if schizophrenic set list that ranged from a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (complete with her own approximation of Youssou N’Dour’s Wolof-language verses), a track from her forthcoming Christmas album, and an a capella version of the “Wicked” number “For Good.” In another overextended bit, Menzel, who lost this year’s Tony award for best actress in a musical to “Beautiful” star Jessie Mueller, delivered her unread Tony acceptance speech while victoriously clutching a bottle of beer. Few, though, could contest her dedication of the “award” to “anyone out there trying to write an original musical from scratch.”

After leaving the stage, Menzel returned for a three-song encore accompanied by “If/Then” composer Tom Kitt, who joined her on piano for the show’s “You Learn to Live Without.” She then bid adieu with a lovely two-fer, “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and “I’ll Be Seeing You” — which, whatever the fate of this particular one-woman show, is something you musical theater fans can safely bet on.

Concert Review: Idina Menzel at Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall; 6,015 capacity; $144.50 top

Production: Presented in-house. Reviewed June 16, 2014.

Creative: Musical director and piano, Rob Mounsey; drums, Rich Mercurio; guitar, John Benthal; bass, Gary Haase; keyboard, Clifford Carter.

Cast: Idina Menzel.

More Legit

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    'Hamilton' Panic Over Mistaken Reports of Gunfire Injures Three in San Francisco

    Three people were injured after mistaken reports of an active shooter at a San Francisco production of “Hamilton” caused attendees to flee the theater. CNN reported that a woman experienced a medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — during a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play wherein Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

  • All About Eve review

    West End Review: Gillian Anderson and Lily James in 'All About Eve'

    To adapt a crass old adage: it’s “All About Eve,” not “All About Steve.” Stripping Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp-witted screenplay about a waning theater star of its period trappings, Ivo van Hove’s stage adaptation fine-tunes its feminism for our own sexist age — image-obsessed, anti-aging, the time of Time’s Up. Rather than blaming Lily James’ [...]

  • Adam Shankman

    Listen: Why Adam Shankman Directs Every Movie Like It's a Musical

    Director Adam Shankman’s latest movie, the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want,” isn’t a musical. But as one of Hollywood’s top director-choreographers of musicals and musical sequences, he approaches even non-musicals with a sense of tempo. Listen to this week’s podcast below: More Reviews Sundance Film Review: Stephen K. Bannon in 'The Brink' Film [...]

  • Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella'

    How much can you change “Cinderella” before it is no longer “Cinderella”? In the case of choreography maestro Matthew Bourne — who, it should be said, first unveiled his spin on the classic folk tale some 22 years ago — the music is most certainly “Cinderella” (Prokofiev’s 1945 score, to be exact), but the plot [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content