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Idina Menzel
IdinaMenzel
Judge Profile
Birth Date 30 May 1971 (1971-05-30) (age 48)
Hometown Queens, New York

Season(s) Season 23

Idina Kim Menzel (née Mentzel) is an American actress, singer, and songwriter.

She served as a guest judge and performed "Queen of Swords" in week 9 of season twenty-three of Dancing with the Stars. Couples have danced to her songs in several seasons.

Early life

Idina Kim Mentzel's birthplace is varyingly reported as either the New York City borough of Queens or the town of Syosset, New York, on Long Island. She grew up in Syosset, the daughter of Helene, a therapist, and Stuart Mentzel, a pajama salesman. She has a younger sister named Cara. Menzel's family is Jewish, and her grandparents emigrated from Eastern Europe. Menzel attended Syosset High School.

When Menzel was fifteen years old, her parents divorced, and she began working as a wedding and bar mitzvah singer, a job that she continued throughout her time at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drama.

Idina changed the spelling of her surname to "Menzel" to better reflect the pronunciation that the Mentzel family had adopted in America. She was friends with actor Adam Pascal before they worked together in Rent.

In 2017, during an interview with Irish New York–based songwriter Jimmy Walsh, he revealed that, in 1992, Menzel recorded a demo for him of the song "In Your Eyes", which went on to win the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest for Irish singer Niamh Kavanagh. Menzel was paid $75 for the recording.

Career

Theater

In 1995, Menzel auditioned for Rent, which became her first professional theater job and her Broadway debut. Rent opened off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop 26 January 1996, but it moved to Broadway's Nederlander Theatre due to its popularity. For her performance as Maureen Johnson in the original cast of the musical, Menzel received a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical losing to Ann Duquesnay for Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. Her final performance in the musical was 1 July 1997.

Following the success of Rent, Menzel released her first solo album entitled "Still I Can't Be Still" on Hollywood Records, Menzel also originated the role of Dorothy in Summer of '42 at Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut, starred as Sheila in the New York City Center Encores! production of Hair and appeared on Broadway as Amneris in Aida. Menzel earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for her performance as Kate in the Manhattan Theatre Club's 2000 off-Broadway production of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party. Her other off-Broadway credits include the pre-Broadway run of Rent and The Vagina Monologues.

In 2003, Menzel starred with actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway in Wicked, a musical by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman based upon Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995). Menzel received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. During her penultimate performance of Wicked 8 January 2005, she fell through a trap door and cracked a lower rib. The injury prevented her from performing in her final show on January 9. Menzel did, however, make a special out-of-costume appearance at that performance, performed her final song, and received a five-minute standing ovation. Menzel was replaced by Elphaba standby Shoshana Bean.

Following Wicked, Menzel appeared off-Broadway in the Public Theater's production of See What I Wanna See, a Michael John LaChiusa-penned musical whose run ended in December 2005, for which she received Drama Desk Award and Drama League Award nominations. She reprised her Tony Award-winning role as Elphaba in the West End production of Wicked when it opened at London's Apollo Victoria Theatre 7 September 2006. During her run, she was the highest paid female performer in the West End at $30,000 per week. Menzel finished her West End run on December 30, 2006. She was succeeded by Elphaba standby Kerry Ellis.

Menzel played the role of Florence in the 21st-anniversary concert of Chess at the Royal Albert Hall, London from 12 to 13 May 2008, alongside Kerry Ellis, Adam Pascal, and Josh Groban.

In 2008, Menzel headlined the Powerhouse Theatre's reading of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's musical Nero from 11 to 13 July, performing the role of Nero's mistress, Poppea. She was joined by Glee costar Lea Michele as Claudia Octavia, Jeffrey Carleson as Nero, and Michael Arden as Octavia's brother, Brittanicus.

On 28 February 2013, it was announced that Menzel would make her return to the Broadway stage, starring as Elizabeth in the new Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey musical If/Then. The new musical, directed by Michael Greif (whom Menzel previously worked within the original production of Rent), had its world premiere at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., starting with previews 5 November 2013 until 24 November 2013. Following the out-of-town tryout, the show moved to the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway and began previews 4 March 2014. It officially opened 30 March 2014. For her performance, Menzel was nominated for her second Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, losing to Jessie Mueller for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. If/Then closed on Broadway 22 March 2015, after 29 previews and 401 regular performances.

Menzel reprised the role of Elizabeth (along with original Broadway cast members Lachanze, James Snyder, and Anthony Rapp) on the first seven stops of the National Tour of If/Then from October 2015 to January 2016. She departed the show (along with LaChanze and Snyder) on the last day in Costa Mesa, California, 24 January 2016. Her replacement was Jackie Burns (who previously served as Menzel's standby in the Broadway production) starting 27 January 2016 in Dallas, Texas. In 2018 she participated in a workshop for Jagged Little Pill.

Music

Menzel performed at the 1998 Lilith Fair summer concert festival and continues to write and perform original music. She has toured extensively and frequently performs in various venues throughout New York City. She produced and released her debut album, "Still I Can't Be Still", for Hollywood Records in 1998. One single from the album, "Minuet", made the Radio & Records CHR/Pop Tracks chart at number 48 in October 1998. Following the album release, she embarked on her Still I Can't Be Still Tour, but after selling fewer than 10,000 copies in the US and missing the Billboard 200, Menzel's label put the album out of print, and she was dropped from the label. However, the album was re-released once she began to rise to a greater fame with her Tony-winning performance in Wicked.

Her second album, "Here", was released independently by Zel Records in 2004. Menzel contributed to the soundtrack of Desperate Housewives in 2005. She also appears on Ray Charles's album "Genius and Friends", which was also released in 2005, on the track "I Will Be There." In 2007, she appeared on the Beowulf soundtrack singing the end credits song, "A Hero Comes Home." Also, in 2007, Menzel's powerful singing voice led her to be asked to accompany the baritone British X-Factor runner-up Rhydian Roberts on his debut album, duetting on the song "What If".

Her third solo album, "I Stand", was released 29 January 2008. It includes many new songs, including the lead single, "Brave", the title track "I Stand", and a song released on EP, "Gorgeous". The album debuted at number 58 on the Billboard 200, making it the first solo album by Menzel to make the charts. There are five versions of this album: the original version, the special limited edition, the iTunes version, the Barnes & Noble edition, and the Borders edition. Menzel wrote many of the songs on her album.

On 1 April 2008, Menzel kicked off her 2008–2009 I Stand Tour in support of her new album performing four sold-out legs. The concert at Rose Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City was filmed for the PBS television series Soundstage. Menzel was joined by special guests, superstar Josh Groban and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane.

On 11 November 2008, Menzel released "Hope", written by Paul Hampton, benefiting Stand Up to Cancer. On 27 November 2008, she performed "I Stand" on the M&M Candies float as part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

On 19 July 2010, Menzel performed "Defying Gravity" and "What I Did For Love" in front of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House. The concert aired 20 October 2010 on PBS.

In April 2010, Menzel returned to concert stage embarking on her "Barefoot at the Symphony Tour" in which she was accompanied by major symphony orchestras. Her performances included collaborations with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the North Carolina Symphony, and featured symphonic arrangements by New York composer and producer Rob Mounsey. In October 2011, Menzel returned to London to perform a one-night-only concert in the United Kingdom at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Marvin Hamlisch conducting. Menzel's concert stop in Toronto was filmed at The Royal Conservatory of Music on November 17 and 18, 2011, for her second PBS special. She was accompanied by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony with Marvin Hamlisch conducting and special guest Taye Diggs, Menzel's husband. Idina Menzel Live: Barefoot at the Symphony was released as a live CD and DVD and aired on PBS in March 2012, with Musical Director Rob Mounsey producing.

Menzel announced she would continue live performances in 2012. The first date she announced was 8 July 2012, at Ravinia Festival near Chicago, Illinois. She made her Carnegie Hall solo debut (originally 29 October 2012). However, due to Hurricane Sandy's impact on New York City, it was postponed until 13 January 2013.

Menzel toured Australia in June 2013 with shows in South Australia, Melbourne, Brisbane, and two at the Sydney Opera House.

On 17 June 2014, during a concert at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, Menzel confirmed that she was working on a Christmas album that would contain original material to be released later that same year. In that concert, she performed one of the original tunes from the album, December Prayer. The album, Holiday Wishes, was released 14 October 2014. The album has so far peaked at number 10 on the Billboard 200, becoming her highest charting album as a solo lead artist. Holiday Wishes also marked the first that a woman had three different albums (the cast recording to Frozen and If/Then) peak within the top 20 within ten months of the release date. Holiday Wishes also become the second ever Christmas to chart before Halloween during the SoundScan Era after Garth Brooks's 1992 album Beyond the Season. On 26 November 2014, Menzel announced through her Facebook page that she would be touring during the summer of 2015. This was her first global tour and first time playing shows in Europe and Asia.

Menzel was honoured with the Breakthrough Artist award at the 2014 Billboard Women in Music awards ceremony. She sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLIX 1 February 2015, at University of Phoenix Stadium.

On 5 August 2016, Menzel announced she would release her eponymous fifth album 23 September. Of the release, Menzel stated: "I poured my heart out and used my music as a place to kind of figure some things out. It's a really personal album."

Film and Television

After minor roles in Kissing Jessica Stein and Just a Kiss, Menzel had supporting roles in The Tollbooth and Water in 2004. Her first major role in a major film was in 2005 when she reprised her role of Maureen Johnson in the film adaptation of Rent. She was nominated for several critics circle awards for the part. In 2007, she played Nancy Tremaine in the film Enchanted.

Menzel had a recurring guest star role in the television series Glee playing Shelby Corcoran, the coach of the rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline. When the series first premiered, Glee fans (known collectively as 'Gleeks') had noted a strong physical resemblance between Menzel and Lea Michele who portrays the character of Rachel Berry. According to her then-husband, actor Taye Diggs, Menzel had expressed interest in possibly guest starring as the biological mother of Rachel. The character was introduced in the episode "Hell-O". Lea Michele and Idina Menzel sing together "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables and "Poker Face" originally by Lady Gaga. Menzel returned to Glee in season 3 episode "I Am Unicorn", her role this time as a teacher causing trouble for Rachel, Quinn, Puck, and former flame Will Schuster.

In 2013, Menzel starred as Elsa in the animated musical film Frozen. Menzel's performance received praise from film critics. The film became the highest grossing animated film of all time, and one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Menzel gained particular notice for her song "Let It Go", which won an Academy Award and a Grammy Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Menzel herself won a Grammy Award for the film's soundtrack. She is also featured in the song "For the First Time in Forever" and its reprise. She has since reprised her role of Elsa in most of her appearances including video games such as the Disney Infinity series and Kingdom Hearts III, the 2015 short film Frozen Fever, the 2017 featurette short film Olaf's Frozen Adventure, the 2018 film Ralph Breaks the Internet, and will reprise it again for Frozen 2 in 2019.

Menzel was invited to perform "Let It Go" at the 86th Academy Awards in March 2014, where the song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. When John Travolta announced her before she sang the song, he incorrectly introduced her as "Adele Dazeem". The slip-up became a popular Internet meme. According to a source for E!, Menzel was not upset about the mishap. In response to the misnaming, she reportedly printed up satirical playbills that promoted her name as Adele Dazeem, noting her past work in Nert (Rent), Wicked-ly (Wicked) and Farfignugen (a play on the word Fahrvergnügen, referring to Frozen). Three days after the ceremony, Travolta publicly apologized to Menzel for mispronouncing her name. At the 87th Academy Awards, Menzel presented the award for Best Original Song alongside Travolta where she jokingly introduced him as Glom Gazingo. Travolta then finally pronounced her name correctly when he appeared on stage.

Menzel starred as C.C. in the Lifetime TV movie remake of the film Beaches, which aired 21 January 2017.

She is also set to star on the Ellen DeGeneres–produced sitcom Happy Time.

Personal Life

Menzel married actor Taye Diggs 11 January 2003. They met in 1995 during the original production of Rent, in which Diggs portrayed the role of Benjamin Coffin III, the landlord. On 2 September 2009, she gave birth to their son, Walker Nathaniel Diggs. In late 2013, it was reported that Menzel and Diggs had separated after ten years of marriage. Their divorce was finalized 3 December 2014.

Menzel began dating actor Aaron Lohr and they appeared together in April 2015 at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. In August 2015, Menzel and Lohr bought a home located in Encino, Los Angeles, California. They both starred in the 2005 film adaptation of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway musical Rent as well as the Off-Broadway musical See What I Wanna See. On 23 September 2016, Menzel announced that she and Lohr were engaged. They were married over the weekend of 22 September 2017.

Menzel identifies as a feminist, saying "I love that I play all of these strong women. But they're not just strong— they're women who have a really deep vulnerability and need to go through a journey in order to harness their power."

Gallery

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