Interview: Broadway actor, singer and mom Idina Menzel
We chatted with Broadway star Idina Menzel about her new movie Frozen, raising a four-year-old and her family's favorite NYC spots.
Wed Nov 20 2013
Photograph: Araya Diaz
Idina Menzel has done it all: The actor and singer has portrayed characters in some of the biggest shows on Broadway, won a Tony for her portrayl of Elpheba in Wicked, appeared on TV's Glee as Rachel's biological mom, established A Broader Way camp and released several solo albums. Did we mention that she's also getting ready to return to Broadway in next year's If/Then? Currently, the superstar, who is married to actor Taye Diggs (son Walker is 4), is the voice of Elsa in Disney's new movie Frozen (in theaters November 27). Menzel took time out of her busy rehearsal schedule to chat with us about the film, her favorite spots in NYC for families and the importance of arts education.
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On her character in Frozen
"I play Elsa, a princess who is about to be corinated queen. She's been hiding her very special powers because she's afraid that they would hurt the people around her, but there comes a time when she can't hold them back—and it's revealed to everyone that she can freeze things. She runs away but then finds sanctuary in escaping and being her true self."
On singing in the film
"There are a bunch of songs but 'Let it Go' is my big song. Elsa sings it at the moment when she becomes a refugee from her own kingdom and runs away to the top of the mountain and succumbs to her own powers. By the end of the song, she's celebrating her powers and finding herself."
On the animation process
"I am constantly in awe of the work that goes into it. I like going into the studio and playing with my voice—and getting to try it over and over to create a character."
On son Walker's musical taste
"His iPod—if he had one—would be filled with Beyoncé, Michael Jackson and songs from soundtracks like Madagascar. He doesn't know the Wicked stuff yet. He just refers to me as his green mommy!"
On laughing together
"I was singing Walker the lullaby that my husband and I worte for him, and now if I'm snuggling him too hard, he'll sing "You're making me hot," in the melody of the song. He has a good sense of humor."
On the move back to New York City
"We were based in Los Angeles but visiting our New York City apartment a lot. Now that I'm about to do the new musical, we've migrated back to our New York place. I'm excited about the prospects of raising him in the city because of all the culture and the arts and diversity—and the idea that every day you can see different people with different passions."
On favorite city activities
"We love Central Park—the rocks become Pride Rock from The Lion King and we act out the scenes. He's also very into dinosaurs these days. We'll probably be heading to the American Museum of Natural History on a regular basis. I'm also looking forward to Waker seeing a lot of snow this winter. My favorite thing of all time is a New York City weekend when there's a blizzard. Everything gets really quiet and everyone goes to the movies and the park. I'd love for him to witness what that's like"
On the importance of the arts
"My husband and I grew up with parents who supported our passion and we're grateful to them for that. It really helps you find your identity when you're younger. It helps you become a really well-rounded person, the more you can show from different perspectives. The arts show us empathy which is so important."
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