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Idina Menzel: Back on the Stand

The Tony Award-winning actress discusses her upcoming concert tour, her experience on Glee, and her thoughts on returning to Broadway.

Idina Menzel
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
It's been seven years since Idina Menzel won the Tony Award for her work as Elphaba in Wicked, and while the actress hasn't been officially back on Broadway since then, she's been keeping very busy. Two years ago, she released her album, I Stand; nine months ago, she gave birth to her son, Walker (whose daddy is Menzel's husband, actor Taye Diggs); and most recently, she played teacher Shelby Corcoran on FOX's hit series Glee. Now, Menzel is hitting the road on a six-month concert tour, which stops next at Dallas' Meyerson Symphony Hall on June 17 and Philadelphia's Mann Center for the Arts on June 24. TheaterMania recently spoke to Menzel about her life and work.

THEATERMANIA: You presented at this year's Tony Awards on Sunday night. Did that bring back memories of your own Tony-winning night?
IDINA MENZEL: Sure, but more than memories, it makes me want to get back to Broadway soon. I'm just looking for the right project.

TM: I vote for you to make your return in the 2012 revival ofFunny Girl
IM: I may have missed my opportunity, but thank you, that's a compliment. In any case, those are very big shoes to fill.

TM: What can you tell us about your upcoming tour?
IM: These concerts are with symphonies all over the country, and I'm very excited to sing with them. I usually sing with a small rock-band. This time, the music is being revisited, and there are all new arrangements. Each show, each conductor, each song has a new rhythm. There will be staples from shows like Wicked and others that are from more obscure shows or from other cast albums. And there are brand new songs too.

TM: It's been two years since I Stand was released. So why is now the right time to go back on tour?
IM: I went on tour when the CD first came out, and I had a great time. It was the first time on my tour-bus with my band. And that was something I always wanted to do. Now it's just a new time in my life and I can sort of get myself back in work mode. This is a great way for me to get back in there and challenge myself more.

TM: How have you changed as an artist since the CD was released?
IM: The album was written before I was even pregnant. That entire album was very personal, as everything that I write is. But if I were to write an album now, the music would definitely be very different. I feel emboldened. I'm in a different place as a woman and a mother, having gone through labor. For any kind of artist, I think your work kind of defines where you are in your life.

TM: Did you enjoy your experience playing Shelby on Glee? Would you want to go back to the show?
IM: It was a little difficult for me because Shelby's maternal instincts are not as strong as mine are in real life. That part of me that identified with her actions, I really needed to figure out what that was. I had to play against what I know, and totally understand a mother, who walks away from her child. In a way, it hurt me, but it is me playing a character. And I hope she hasn't walked into the Glee sunset forever.

TM: Although you got to sing a variety of songs, we never got to see you dance. Do you wish could have rehearsed a group number with Vocal Adrenaline?
IM: You would not like to see me dance.

TM: How is Walker doing?
IM: He's amazing. You know, I have a little bit of guilt because we do move him around a lot. But I think also his incredible personality makes him adaptable, so we don't worry too much if his sleeping is a little off because he is in different time zones. But it is hard balancing a career as a mother. But I'm figuring that out. All I really need to do is look at him or give him a bath. It gives me perspective that I never had before.

TM: Do you think Walker will follow in his parents' showbiz shoes?
IM: We don't want him to go into the industry, because it's so crazy. We want him to have a normal life, but I might not have a say in that. Already, he just hears music and he's bouncing and singing.

TM: Having now worked a lot on stage, television, and film, which medium do you most prefer?
IM: I would say the stage, whether it be a musical or a concert, probably because I feel accepted there. Maybe it's because I've had the most success there. And while I love doing film and TV, there's nothing like a live audience.

w For tour dates, tickets, and more information, visit www.idinamenzel.com.

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