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Idina Menzel Does It For Love

The Tony Award-winning star discusses her upcoming tour, life with husband Taye Diggs, Glee, Wicked, and more.

Idina Menzel
(© Tristan Fuge)
[The following is an expanded version of a story about Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, originally posted on October 13.]

Planes and trains and automobiles; you'll never know on which one of these you might find Tony Award winner Idina Menzel -- perhaps even in the same day. Last week, she took the red-eye from Los Angeles to New York just to talk to the press, and then quickly turned around so she could take care of her 13-month-old son, Walker.

And later this month, Menzel begins a series of performances with symphony orchestras around the country, beginning on October 28, with a three-night stint at the Kennedy Center. (Go to www.idinamenzel.com/tours for more information.) Those concerts will be conducted by Marvin Hamlisch, and Menzel will be singing some of the composer's songs, including "What I Did For Love." "Marvin and I really hit it off," she says of their initial meeting earlier this year.

Menzel said that performing at the Kennedy Center will be "a piece of cake" compared to her previous appearance there, when she helped pay tribute to Barbra Streisand at the Kennedy Center Honors. (She also revealed that Streisand sent her a thank you note, which now sits next to her Tony Award in the New York City apartment that she and husband Taye Diggs live in part of the year.)

Nor will it be as nervewracking as singing both "What I Did For Love" and "Defying Gravity" for President and Mrs. Obama earlier this year (which will be seen as part of the October 20 PBS special, A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House.

She and Diggs now spend much of their time in Los Angeles, where he co-stars in ABC's Private Practice. Menzel admits she doesn't always watch the show. Moreover, an attempt to visit her husband on the set was recently kiboshed. "Lately he and Kate Walsh have been getting it on, on the program I mean," she notes. "Anyway, there was one morning where I was like 'Oh, maybe I'll bring the baby to work and visit you on set,' and he was like 'Today's not the day.'"

The couple did manage to work together on an upcoming episode of PBS' Sesame Street, and though Menzel enjoyed the experience -- there was one slight snag. "I had this line reading of the way "allergy" was supposed to be said and he felt that he was right but he was using it wrong."

Still, Diggs is on the singer's wish list of people to duet with on CD, as are Streisand, Bono, Michael Bublé, and Christina Aguilera. However, none of those people are slated to be on Menzel's new CD, which she plans to begin recording later this month, and which will include a mix of standards and original material.

Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth
in WIcked
As for her famous duets from Wicked, fans will have to be satisfied with the original Broadway cast album. Menzel says she had been informed by producers of the still-to-be-filmed Wicked movie that she would not be playing Elphaba because of her age. "But I have an idea for them," she says. "Why don't we do it like Avatar and there could be this beautiful green creature with the essence of me and my voice."

As for other work in Hollywood, Menzel offered no specifics on any upcoming reappearance on Glee, though she did state that "it would be perfectly fine" if she worked on an episode with former Wicked co-star (and former Glee guest star) Kristin Chenoweth. She also said she hopes to be part of the sequel to the hit film Enchanted, in which she starred opposite Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey, and would like to do more film and television work.

Menzel is also in the process of creating a new foundation called "A Broader Way" that would fund a summer camp in the Berkshires for underprivileged girls. Menzel's plan is for the campers to put on a show that she would later produce for one night on Broadway.

As for her own return to musical theater, Menzel added that she has some projects in the early development stage, and that she is hoping to originate a role. "I just don't see myself as a revival girl," she notes.

Still, she would be thrilled just to be back in New York. "For me, what I love about New York is that when you're feeling lonely or depressed you can get out and walk it off and maybe encounter other people who are feeling the same way. In L.A. you're just stuck in a car all by yourself, and for someone who's maybe got some neuroses, the last thing I need to do is sit in a car by myself listening to sad music," she says. Here, you get out and you walk and you see people from all walks of life and you get some perspective."

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