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BWW Reviews: Idina Menzel Wows Dallas


Idina Menzel made her Texas debut Thursday night at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, and impressed the 2000+ people in attendance so much that she was called out for two encores.

Menzel's Dallas stop is just the third city of a year-long symphony tour that will criss-cross the United States, hitting 17 different cities.  Backed by local symphonies - in this case, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Rei Hotoda - Menzel is covering a spectrum of songs from her career and beyond in a setlist that evolves with each performance.

The show opened with a Broadway-themed journey of show tunes from some of Menzel's favorite musicals - West Side Story, A Chorus Line, and Porgy & Bess.

Following an intermission that had the concert hall filled with tangible excitement, Menzel made her way on stage to thunderous applause and the opening chords of Andrew Lippa's "The Life of the Party," Menzel's show-stopping number from the 2000 Off-Broadway musical, The Wild Party.  Despite the song's message, however, Menzel explained that she's really just a couch potato, not one for going out to parties.  She followed with a sultry combination of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" and Sting's "Roxanne" before sharing with the audience her experience of singing "Don't Rain on My Parade" at the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors in front of Ms. Streisand herself.  "You did good," was Streisand's comment to Menzel after her performance.

If you are a fan of Menzel, or if you watch Fox's hit show Glee, then you know that Menzel performed one of Streisand's penultimate songs, "Funny Girl" in an episode.  Lucky for that audience, she decided to premiere a live rendition of it, which was, by many accounts, better than the televised version, and she flexed a bit of her acting muscle with it, delivering with the emotion the song called for.  She pulled another song from her Glee repertoire with admitted trepidation - Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" (originally performed on the show as a duet with Lea Michele).  Despite it being a bit shaky due to lack of rehearsal time, it was a crowd favorite, especially as Menzel encouraged everyone to sing along.  It was certainly a highlight of the night.

She also touched on her time with the cast of RENT, singing a bittersweet solo arrangement of "Finale B," known as "No Day But Today" for her setlist.

The only self-penned song Menzel performed was off her 2008 album I Stand - "Gorgeous" - was a significantly darker, moodier version than what you will hear on her album.  She quickly lightened the mood by bringing up 9-month-old son Walker, sharing some kooky mommy songs she's made up to sing to him, including a fully orchestrated swing tune named "Good Morning, Walker," which was combined with Kurt Elling's "I Feel So Smoochie."  She also premiered a melancholy "Look to the Rainbow" (from Finian's Rainbow).

Menzel drew her setlist to a close with a nod to her days in Wicked.  She began with "For Good," lowering her microphone after singing the first line, and performing it a cappella and without amplification, her voice resonating throughout the music hall's stunned silence.  It felt as though not a drop of air was available, the crowd holding their collective breath so as to not interrupt the purity of the moment.  Even upon the last note drawing to an end, silence lingered until Menzel gave a slight nod of completion, leading to an explosion of applause and a standing ovation.  She launched into her personal arrangement of "Defying Gravity" before people had returned to their seats, and at the climax of the song, it jumped up to its original key, showing off the range of her voice, hitting the final big note dead-on.

She returned for an encore, performing "Tomorrow" from Annie, a soft, heartfelt take on the classic.  The audience demanded more still, after she said goodnight, and she returned a second time, visibly surprised by her reception and not knowing what to do, having not planned a second encore.  After making a little small talk, she decided to perform a staple from her days as a Long Island wedding singer, Billie Holiday's "Embraceable You."

She finally shooed the Texas audience away, telling everyone to go home.  And, eventually, they did, with their lives changed for the better.

Her complete tour schedule is as follows:

June 24, Philadelphia, PA
The Mann Center w/ The Philadelphia Orchestra

June 29, Pittsburgh, PA
Heinz Hall w/ The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

July 2, Lenox, MA
Tanglewood Music Center w/ The Boston Pops

July 9, San Francisco, CA
Davies Symphony Hall w/ The San Francisco Symphony

July 17, Washington, DC
Wolf Trap w/ The National Symphony Orchestra

July 31, Bethel, NY
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts w/ The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra

August 1, Hyannis, MA
Village Green w/ The Boston Pops

September 24, Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Music Hall w/ The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

September 25, Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Music Hall w/ The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

September 26, Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Music Hall w/ The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

October 2, Brookville, NY
Tilles Center Concert Hall w/ The Long Island Philharmonic

October 12, Red Bank, NJ
Count Basie Theatre w/ The New Jersey Symphony

November 5, Denver, CO
Boettcher Concert Hall w/ The Colorado Symphony

November 7, Costa Mesa, CA
Orange County Performing Arts Center w/ The Pacific Symphony

November 19, Minneapolis, MN
Orchestra Hall w/ The Minnesota Orchestra

December 17, West Palm Beach, FL
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts w/ The Palm Beach Pops

Visit and to learn more about Idina and purchase tickets to an upcoming concert.

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