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BWW Reviews: Idina Menzel Wows in World Tour

by Amiel Mendoza

Photos: Franco Laurel

Manila, Philippines--After kicking off her world tour in Seoul just a over a week ago, followed by a total of four shows in Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo, Idina Menzel held Sunday her one-night-only performance in Manila capping the Asian stretch of her 53-city concert performances.

New converts and die-hard fans could not contain their joy upon seeing the original Maureen/Elphaba live who welcomed her with adoring screams that became louder the minute she exclaimed, "How are you doing, Manila?" just after the first few verses of the opening song, "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked."

The simple stage that served home to the Tony Award winner and founder of A BroaderWay Foundation only had long, flowing fabric as her backdrop, set to life by radiant lights that gave the mood to every song, accompanied by her traveling band and a small (13-piece) orchestra. This simplicity brought focus to Idina as the real star of the night.

As in most concert tours, songs both familiar and fresh to the audience comprised the repertoire, some of which were her favorites, some came from her past shows and albums including "Wicked," "Rent," "If/Then," "I Stand," "Barefoot at the Symphony," "Still I Can't Be Still," and "Frozen."

Memorable parts aside from the easily-predicted show favorites such as "Defying Gravity "and "Let It Go" were the medley of songs popularized by Ethel Merman; emotional versions of "Creep" and "No Day but Today"; and her very haunting ode to Jonathan Larson, a goosebump-inducing rendition of "For Good" without accompaniment or help from a microphone--just natural vocal projection.

Of course, a tour stop is never complete without the local flavor such as Filipino greetings and the vernacular I love you's. The Filipinos proved their superb musicality anew by acing the impromptu singing during the audience participation. They were also delighted when they found out that it was ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra that beautifully complemented Idina's band. And as she previously announced on the Ellen Degeneres Show, she also sang the chorus of Elsa's iconic song in Tagalog [translated by Mickey Muñoz, the orchestra's managing director]:

Bumitaw, Bumitaw (Let it go, let it go)
'Di ko na maitatago (Can't hold it back anymore)
Bumitaw, Bumitaw (Let it go, let it go)
Isarado ang pinto (Turn away and slam the door)
Kahit na anong sabihin pa (I don't care what they're going to say)
Bumagyo pa man (Let the storm rage on)
Lamig ay hindi alintana (The cold never bothered me anyway)

Her singing voice, although not as high as Kristin Chenoweth's or crystal-like as Lea Salonga's, definitely surpassed expectations and impressed the crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.

What really endeared Idina to everyone, having just turned 44 years old, was how she expressed her feelings without any pretense. She casually said that her leg hurt after doing a pose, joked that she would start the show over for the latecomers, and more importantly, she sincerely thanked Filipinos for being her most loving and supportive fans for many years even when she didn't have much of a name yet early in her career; making these lyrics extra special: "because I knew you, I have been changed for good".

From Manila, Idina will head for Amsterdam, Netherlands to start the European stretch of the tour on Tuesday, June 16. For ticket and schedule details, log on to IdinaMenzel.com.

PULP Live World, in cooperation with PLDT Fiber and Star World, produced the concert in Manila.

Amiel Mendoza is a theater actor and public relations professional in the Philippines. He also heads the local branch of Cohn & Wolfe, an international PR agency. Follow him on @aimsmendoza.



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