Idina Menzel was born on May 30, 1971 in Syosset, New York, going on to establish a successful Broadway career starring in projects like Rent and Wicked, winning a Tony for the latter. She has also appeared in TV and film, striking box office gold voicing the character of Queen Elsa in the animated film Frozen. Menzel sang the centerpiece song "Let It Go," which went on to become a Top 5 pop hit. She has later received a Tony nomination for her role in the musical If/Then.
Background and Early Career
Idina Kim Mentzel was born on May 30, 1971 in Syosset, New York. A versatile, powerhouse vocalist, she took to singing at bar mitzvahs and weddings while in high school. She eventually attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, graduating with a BFA in 1993.
Acclaimed Role in 'Rent'
In 1996, Menzel was part of the original cast of the hit Broadway show Rent, the long-running rock musical which celebrated bohemia and cultural/sexual diversity while dealing with the issue of AIDS. Menzel played lesbian performance artist Maureen Johnson to much acclaim, and received a Tony nomination for the role. It was on set she met fellow actor and singer Taye Diggs. The two married in 2003, going on to have a son.
Tony Win for 'Wicked' Witch
After appearing in the Off-Broadway production of The Wild Party, Menzel returned to Broadway as part of the original 2003 cast of Wicked, co-starring with Kristin Chenoweth in the musical adaptation of the bestselling Gregory Maguire novel. Menzel portrayed Elphaba, the green-skinned young woman who would eventually become known as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz fables. With signature tunes like "Defying Gravity," Menzel went on to win the Tony for best actress, musical.
Menzel aimed to establish a TV/film and pop music career as well, releasing studio albums over the years like Still I Can't Be Still (1998), Here (2004) and I Stand (2008). She did guest spots on a number of TV series, such as Kevin Hill (with Diggs) and Glee, and also appeared on the big screen in the 2005 movie version of Rent and 2007's Enchanted, among other projects.
The Queen of 'Frozen'
Initially auditioning for 2010's Tangled and not getting the part, Menzel still caught Disney casting's attention and did private recording work with fellow singer Kristen Bell. The two would co-star in Disney's animated global smash Frozen, which opened in the U.S. in November 2013. Menzel played Snow Queen Elsa, another character with great powers struggling to come to terms with her abilities. The movie earned more than $1 billion globally, hence becoming one of the biggest animated films ever created.
The Voice of "Let It Go"
The centerpiece of Frozen is the self-empowerment anthem "Let It Go," sung by Menzel and going on to become hugely popular on its own. The track reached the Top 5 of the Billboard pop charts primarily on the strength of the song's streaming and download activity. Menzel performed the tune at the 2014 Academy Awards telecast (where it won for Best Song), with much social media activity generated from actor John Travolta mispronouncing her name right before she took the stage by storm.
In March 2014, Menzel starred in the opening of If/Then, a musical which offers visions of what a woman's life might be like depending on the paths she takes. The show has decidedly adult themes and has much resonance for Menzel, as at the end of 2013 she and her husband announced that they were separating. With Tony Award announcements made in late April, Menzel received yet another nomination for her performance in the work.
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