Family & Companions
A Broadway actress-singer with a formidable stage presence, Idina Menzel was the Tony-winning star of such Great White Way hits as "Rent" and "Wicked," before raising her profile on the popular musical series "Glee" (Fox, 2009-15). A theater devotee from her earliest years, Menzel landed her first big break with the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Rent" (1995), which she followed up a decade later with a reprisal in the 2005 film adaptation. Meanwhile, she scored an even greater success in 2003 as the sympathetic Wicked Witch of the West in "Wicked," which earned her a Tony Award and made her a genuine Broadway star. Menzel began making the transition to the screen with her film debut in the indie comedy "Kissing Jessica Stein" (2001) and in an early episode of "Rescue Me" (FX, 2004-11), but it was her turn as rival glee club coach, Shelby Corcoran, on the popular "Glee" that made her a household name outside of the lights of Broadway. Having previously been seen in "Enchanted" (2007) and in a pair of episodes of "Private Practice" (ABC, 2007-13), it was only a matter of time that the multitalented Menzel would become a full-fledged film and television star. That mainstream breakthrough came with her starring role as Elsa in the animated blockbuster "Frozen" (2013), which included her performance of the hit single "Let It Go," which made the veteran actress an overnight success to a new generation of viewers.
Born in Syosset, NY on May 30, 1971, Idina Kim Mentzel was the eldest of two daughters born to Stuart Mentzel, a pajama salesman, and her therapist mother, Helene; as an adult, she dropped the "t" in her surname to reflect its correct pronunciation. Singing and musical theater were her passions and became her life's pursuit from an early age, cemented by viewing Barbra Streisand's performance in "A Star is Born" (1976). Her parents balked at allowing her to audition for Broadway, so she made do with school theater until she turned 15. After her parents had divorced, Menzel began venturing out to temples in the Long Island area to perform at weddings and bar mitzvahs. It was in these venues that she first displayed her powerful vocal talents, which would later become her calling card on stage.
Menzel paid her dues on the wedding circuit while studying drama at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. After graduation, she began exploring gigs at rock and pop clubs downtown, with musical theater largely on the back burner. That all changed in 1995 when Jonathan Larsen cast her in his rock opera, "Rent." As Maureen, a bisexual performance artist with a long history of infidelity, Menzel made her off-Broadway debut with the production in 1996, where it quickly became an audience favorite. The show soon moved to Broadway where it blossomed into a genuine theatrical sensation on a global scale. "Rent" not only earned Menzel a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress, but also introduced her to actor Taye Diggs, another member of the original cast, who became her husband in 2003.
Menzel attempted to parlay her theatrical success into a recording career, but her self-produced debut, Still I Can't Be Still (1998), was a dismal failure. In its wake, she struggled to find her footing in the entertainment industry, but discovered it difficult to land substantive work outside of the theaters. Making matters more challenging was the meteoric rise of Diggs' acting career in films and on television. Menzel soon returned to the stage in 2000 for "The Wild Party," which earned her a Drama Desk Award nomination. More hits soon followed, including "Summer of '42" (2000), the 2001 New York City Center Encores production of "Hair," and the original off-Broadway run of "The Vagina Monologues" (2002). The following year, she landed the role that would define her Broadway persona - that of Elphaba in "Wicked" (2003).
The musical, based loosely on the novel by Gregory Maguire, which in turn drew inspiration from L. Frank Baum's Oz stories, was as big a cultural phenomenon as "Rent," with Menzel drawing much of the critical affection as the tormented half-human daughter of the Wizard of Oz, whose green skin makes her a defiant outcast from the magical kingdom and misrepresented as Baum's Wicked Witch of the West. Menzel's show-stopping performance not only earned her numerous honors, including a Tony for Leading Actress in a Musical, but a devoted fan base among teenage girls, who felt a kinship with her character. Broadway regulars also rallied behind her when she fell through a stage trap door on her third-to-last performance in 2005; despite suffering a cracked rib, she returned the following day to perform her final number in the show.
After the success of "Wicked," Menzel released her second album, Here, in 2004, and appeared in a handful of independent films, including "The Tollbooth" (2004). She reunited with most of her original Broadway castmates for the film version of "Rent" (2005), which earned her nominations from several significant film critic societies. That same year, she starred in "See What I Wanna See," an off-Broadway musical based on short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa that also inspired the film "Rashomon" (1951). The production, penned by "Wild Party" composer and lyricist Michael John LaChiusa, brought her Drama Desk and Drama League award nominations. She then returned to "Rent" for its West End production in London at the end of 2006. During that period, she topped the list of highest paid female performers on the London stage by earning $30,000 per week. She also turned up in the Disney-produced smash "Enchanted" as the girlfriend of romantic lead Patrick Dempsey; ironically, the film, which was a musical, did not require her to sing.
In 2008, Menzel landed her first hit record with I Stand; the album reached No. 54 on the Billboard Top 200, and the single "Brave" went to No. 19 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Menzel toured behind the album, which included a performance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2008. She also appeared in the 21st Anniversary concert of Tim Rice's "Chess" at the Royal Albert Hall that year, and participated in a reading of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's "Nero" in New York. Menzel expressed interest in performing on the hit TV series "Glee" as the biological mother to actress Lea Michele's character; fans of the program also lobbied for an appearance, noting the uncanny resemble between the two performers. In 2010, Menzel joined the show in a recurring role as the larger-than-life coach of Vocal Adrenaline, the staunch rivals to the series' glee club, New Directions. Meanwhile, her role on "Glee" ended in 2011, though she continued performing live, culminating in "Idina Menzel Live: Barefoot at the Symphony" (PBS, 2012). On the big screen, she voiced The Snow Queen in the Disney animated feature "Frozen" (2013). Her character's big number from that film, "Let It Go," became a surprise pop hit for Menzel (hitting no. 5 in the Billboard Top 10 Singles and charting in over a dozen other countries around the world), and also won the Best Original Song Oscar for its composers, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. On the night of her Oscar performance, Menzel accidentally became an internet meme when presenter John Travolta flubbed her name in his introduction, announcing the singer as "Adele Dazeem." Menzel graciously laughed off the short-lived social media uproar that followed. The pair joked about the incident when they appeared together to present the Best Original Song Oscar at the following year's ceremony. While starring in the Broadway play "If/Then," Menzel released her first holiday album, Holiday Wishes, in 2014, and embarked on her first world tour in the summer of 2015. Menzel also signed on to repeat her star-making performance in "Frozen 2" (2019). In the meantime, Menzel appeared in a television remake of the best friends drama "Beaches" (Lifetime 2017) and had a voice role in the animated sequel "Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2" (2018).
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Made stage debut, playing vampy performance artist Maureen Johnson in Jonathan Larson's off-Broadway musical "Rent"
Continued on with "Rent" in its move to Broadway; nominated for a Tony Award for her performance
Signed with Hollywood Records and released solo debut <i>Still I Can't Be Still</i>; single "Follow If You Lead" featured on the soundtrack of "The Other Sister" (1999)
Originated the role of Dorothy in "Summer of '42" at Goodspeed Theater
Returned to the stage and appeared in Andrew Lippa's successful "The Wild Party"
Joined Heather Headley and played Amneris as a replacement in "Aida" at the Palace Theatre
Made feature debut in "Kissing Jessica Stein"
Played Elphaba, a young Wicked Witch of the West in "Wicked," a musical adaptation of the Gregory Maguire book
Reprised role of Maureen Johnson for big-screen adaptation of Jonathan Larson's Tony-winning musical "Rent"
Cast in indie film "The Tollbooth" alongside Marla Sokoloff, Liz Stauber, and Tovah Feldshuh
Co-starred with Colin Farrell in Robert Towne directed adaptation of John Fante's Depression Era novel "Ask the Dust"
Cast alongside Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey in the part live-action, part animated feature "Enchanted"
Made recurring guest appearance on "Glee" (Fox) as Shelby Corcoran, the mother of Lea Michele's Rachel
Released album <i>Live: Barefoot at the Symphony</i>
Voiced the lead role of Elsa in the Disney film "Frozen," including the smash hit single "Let It Go."
Released the holiday album <i>Holiday Wishes</i>, including a new song co-written by Menzel, "December Prayer."
Performed "Let It Go" at the 86th Academy Awards; introducing her, John Travolta mispronounced her name as "Adele Dazeem," creating a social media meme.
Began her first world tour, including performances in South Korea, Japan, and The Philippines, her first live dates in Asia.
Starred as CC in "Beaches" TV movie remake
Reprised role of Elsa in "Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2"