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Idina Kim Menzel (pronounced /ɪˈdiːnə mɛnˈzɛl/; née Mentzel; born May 30, 1971) is an American actress, singer and songwriter. She is widely known for originating the roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked.

Early life

Menzel was born in Queens, New York, New York.[1][2] Her mother, Helene, is a therapist, and her father, Stuart Mentzel, worked as a pajama salesman.[3] She was raised in Syosset, New York, with her younger sister Cara, and later changed her last name to Menzel to better reflect the pronunciation the Mentzel family had adopted in America.[4] When Menzel was 15 years old, her parents divorced and she began working as a wedding and bar mitzvah singer, a job which she continued throughout her time at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.[5] She earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Drama at NYU prior to being cast in Jonathan Larson's rock musical Rent. She was friends with actor Adam Pascal before they worked together in Rent.[3]

Theatre career

In 1995, Menzel auditioned for Rent, which became her first professional theater job and her Broadway debut. Rent opened off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop on January 26, 1996, but it moved to Broadway's Nederlander Theatre due to its popularity. For her performance as Maureen Johnson in the original cast of the musical, Menzel received a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Her final performance in the musical was on July 1, 1997.

Following the success of Rent, Menzel released her first solo album entitled Still I Can't Be Still on Hollywood Records, Menzel also originated the role of Dorothy in Summer of ’42 at Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut, starred as Sheila in the New York City Center Encores! production of Hair and appeared on Broadway as Amneris in Aida. Menzel earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for her performance as Kate in the Manhattan Theatre Club's 2000 off-Broadway production of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party. Her other off-Broadway credits include the pre-Broadway run of Rent and The Vagina Monologues.[6]

In 2003, Menzel starred with actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway in Wicked, a musical by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman loosely based upon the popular 1995 Gregory Maguire novel. Menzel received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. On her third-to-last performance of Wicked on January 8, 2005, she fell through a trap door and cracked a lower rib. The injury prevented her from performing in the January 9 show. Menzel did, however, make a special out-of-costume appearance at that performance, performed her final song, and received a 5 minute long standing ovation.[7] Menzel was replaced by Elphaba standby Shoshana Bean.

Following Wicked, Menzel appeared off-Broadway in the Public Theater's production of See What I Wanna See, a Michael John LaChiusa-penned musical whose run ended in December 2005, for which she received Drama Desk Award and Drama League Award nominations. She reprised her Tony Award-winning role as Elphaba in the West End production of Wicked when it opened at London's Apollo Victoria Theater on September 7, 2006.[8] During the run, she joined the ranks of highest paid female performer in the West End at $30,000 per week. Menzel finished her West End run on December 30, 2006. She was succeeded by Elphaba standby Kerry Ellis.

Menzel played the role of Florence in the 21st Anniversary concert of Chess at the Royal Albert Hall, London from May 12–13, 2008 alongside Kerry Ellis, Adam Pascal and Josh Groban.

In 2008, Menzel headlined the Powerhouse Theatre's reading of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's musical Nero from July 11–13, performing the role of Nero’s mistress Poppea.[9]

Film, Television, Recording and Singing career

Menzel's film roles include appearances in Just a Kiss, Kissing Jessica Stein, The Tollbooth, Water, Ask the Dust, Enchanted, and Rent, in which she and five other original cast members reprised their stage roles. As a singer Menzel is known for her wide vocal range, and her use of the 'belt' technique.

Menzel performed at the 1998 Lilith Fair summer concert festival and continues to write and perform original music. She has toured extensively and frequently performs in various venues throughout New York City. She produced and released her debut album, Still I Can’t Be Still, for Hollywood Records in 1998. One single from the album, "Minuet," made the Radio & Records CHR/Pop Tracks chart at #48 in October 1998.[10]

Her second album, Here, was released independently by Zel Records in 2004. Menzel has contributed to soundtracks, including those for the film The Other Sister and the ABC television dramedy Desperate Housewives. In 2007, she appeared on the Beowulf soundtrack singing the end credits song, "A Hero Comes Home". Also in 2007, Menzel's powerful singing voice lead her to be asked to accompany the baritone British X-Factor runner-up Rhydian Roberts on his debut album, duetting on the song "What if".

Her third solo album, I Stand, was released on January 29, 2008. It includes many new songs, including the lead single, "Brave", the title track "I Stand", and a song released on EP, "Gorgeous". The album debuted at #58 in the Billboard 200, making it the first solo album by Menzel to make the charts. There are five versions of this album: the original version, the special limited edition, the iTunes version, the Barnes & Noble edition, and the Borders edition.

On April 1, 2008, Menzel kicked off her "I Stand" tour in support of her new album.

On November 11, 2008, Menzel released a new single in conjunction with Major League Baseball. The single entitled "Hope" was written by Paul Hampton and all the songs proceeds go to Stand Up 2 Cancer.

On November 27, 2008, Menzel performed "I Stand" on the M&M Candies float as part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.[11][12]

Menzel has a recurring guest star role in the television series Glee, playing Shelby Corcoran, the coach of the rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline. When the series first premiered, Glee fans had noted a strong physical resemblance between Menzel and Lea Michele who portrays the character Rachel Berry. According to her husband, actor Taye Diggs, Menzel expressed interest in possibly guest starring as the biological mother of Rachel.[13] The character was introduced in the April 13, 2010 episode "Hell-O", and it was revealed in the May 18, 2010 episode, "Dream On", that Shelby is, in fact, Rachel's biological mother, having answered an ad from Rachel's two gay dads looking for a 'mother' to help them have a baby.

On July 19, 2010 Menzel performed in front of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House. The concert will also air on PBS October 20, 2010.[14]

Personal life

She married actor Taye Diggs, her co-star from the original Broadway production of Rent, on January 11, 2003,[15] after 7 years of dating. They have a Yorkshire Terrier named Sammy Davis Jr.[16] and two cats named Ella and Coltrane, also known as their "Jazz Cats" because they were named after famous jazz performers Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane.[17] Their son, Walker Nathaniel Diggs, was born on September 2, 2009.[18]


Menzel was an Honorary Chair of the Imperial Court of New York's Annual Charity Coronation Ball, Night of A Thousand Gowns on March 21, 2009. Other Honorary Chairs for the evening's charity event included Sir Elton John CBE, Patti LuPone, John Cameron Mitchell, Joan Rivers and Dame Robin Strasser.[19]

On May 17, 2009, Menzel performed at a special benefit concert in Atlanta, Georgia to raise money for the Pace Academy Diversity Program in coordination with the Ron Clark Academy.[20] The event resulted in the funding of two scholarships for Ron Clark Academy students to attend Pace Academy. The event was organized and hosted by Philip McAdoo, a former RENT cast member and current Diversity Program Director at Pace Academy.[21][22]



Start year Production Role Notes and awards
1996 Rent Maureen Johnson
  • Original Broadway Cast
  • Performances:
    • New York Theatre Workshop (January 26, 1996 - March 31, 1996)
    • Nederlander Theatre (April 29, 1996 - July 1, 1997)
  • Nominated - 1996 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
2000 The Wild Party Kate
  • Performances: Manhattan Theatre Club Stage I (February 24, 2000 - April 9, 2000)
  • Nominated - 2000 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Summer of '42 Dorothy
  • Performances: The Norma Terris Theatre (August 10, 2000 - September 3, 2000)
2001 Hair Sheila
  • Performances: New York City Center - (May 3, 2001 - May 7, 2001)
Aida Amneris
  • Replacement Broadway Cast
  • Performances: Palace Theatre (September 13, 2001 - January 27, 2002)
2002 The Vagina Monologues Performer
  • Performances: Westside Theatre (Downstairs) (March 5, 2002 - April 14, 2002)
Funny Girl (concert) Fanny Brice
  • Performances: New Amsterdam Theatre (September 23, 2002)
  • Performed "Cornet Man"
2003 Wicked Elphaba
  • Original Broadway cast
  • Performances: George Gershwin Theatre (October 30, 2003 - January 8, 2005)
  • Won - Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
  • Won - Audience Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical
  • Won - Audience Award for Best Diva Performance
  • Won - Audience Award for Best Onstage Pair (with Kristin Chenoweth)
  • Nominated - Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical
  • Nominated - Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical
  • Nominated - Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance
2005 See What I Wanna See Kesa /
The Wife (Lily) /
The Actress (Deanna)
  • Performances: The Public Theater (October 30, 2005 - December 4, 2005)
  • Nominated - Drama Desk Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical
  • Nominated - Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance
2006 Wicked (London) Elphaba
  • Original London West End cast
  • Performances: Apollo Victoria Theatre (September 7, 2006 - December 30, 2006)
  • Won - Theatregoers Choice Award for Best Actress in a Musical
2008 Chess in Concert (concert) Florence Vassy
  • Performances: Royal Albert Hall (May 12, 2008 - May 13, 2008)
Nero Poppea
  • Performances: Powerhouse Theatre (July 11, 2008 - July 13, 2008)


Year Film Role Notes and awards
2001 Kissing Jessica Stein Bridesmaid
2002 Just a Kiss Linda
2004 The Tollbooth Raquel Cohen-Flaxman
Water Jessy Turner Unreleased
2005 Rent Maureen Johnson Nominated - 2005 Northeastern Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - 2005 Northeastern Critics Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated - 2005 Broadcast Film Critics Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated - 2005 Washington Film Critics Award for Best Ensemble
2006 Ask the Dust Vera Rivkin
2007 ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway as Herself Recorded her own rendition of "Lullaby of Broadway" for the end credits
Enchanted Nancy Tremaine


Year Show Role Notes
1998 Hercules: The Animated Series Circe 1 Episode
2004 Rescue Me Carol 1 Episode
2005 Kevin Hill Francine Prescott 2 Episodes
2009 Soundstage Herself 1 Episode
Private Practice Lisa King 2 Episodes
Great Performances Florence Vassey 1 Episode
2010 Glee Shelby Corcoran 5 Episodes
2010 Wonder Pets The Queen of Hearts 1 Episode
2010 Sesame Street Herself 1 Episode


Studio albums

Year Album U.S. UK Worldwide sales
1998 Still I Can't Be Still 9,000
2004 Here unknown
2008 I Stand 58 54 unknown


Year Title U.S. U.S. AC U.S. Dance IRE
1998 "Minuet"
Still I Can't Be Still
2006 "Take Me or Leave Me"
Rent soundtrack
2007 "Defying Gravity"
I Stand
2008 "Hope"
Non-album singles
2010 "Funny Girl"
"I Dreamed a Dream"[23]
Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers
"Poker Face"

Cast recordings

Year Title Label
1996 Rent (Original Broadway Cast Recording) DreamWorks Records
2000 The Wild Party (Lippa) (Off-Broadway) RCA Victor Broadway
2003 Wicked (Original Broadway Cast Recording) Decca Records
2005 Rent (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Warner Bros. Records
2006 See What I Wanna See (2005 Original Off-Broadway Cast) Sh-K-Boom Records
2009 Chess in Concert (Live Recording of 2008 Royal Albert Hall Performance) Reprise Records
2009 Highlights from Chess in Concert (Live Recording of 2008 Royal Albert Hall Performance) Reprise Records


Year Song Album Label
1998 "Follow If You Lead" The Other Sister (Music From The Motion Picture) Hollywood Records
2003 "How Shall I See You Through My Tears", "The Want of a Nail" (Backing vocals) Camp (Music from the Motion Picture) Decca Records
"I Saw Three Ships" Broadway's Greatest Gifts: Carols for a Cure, Vol. 5 Rock-It Science Records
2005 "Damsel In Distress" Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives Hollywood Records
"I Will Be There" Genius & Friends Rhino Records
2007 "A Hero Comes Home" (End Credit Version) Beowulf (Music from the Motion Picture) Warner Bros. Records
2008 "What If" (duet with Rhydian Roberts) Rhydian Syco Records


  1. Neumaier, Joe (2005-11-15). "RENT CONTROL. One part original, one part newcomer". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  2. Green, Jesse (February 13, 2000). "Trained to Be Wild". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kachka, Boris (2005-10-23). "Something Wicked This Way Comes". New York (magazine). Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  4. Ouzounian, Richard (2005-11-29). "Gig was weddings before Rent called; Menzel's big voice 'discovered' at age 5 Witch role in Wicked made her a star". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  5. Dan Cairns (2008-08-31). "Idina Menzel: from Broadway belter to pop star". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  6. "Idina Menzel's Official Website". Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  7. McKinley, Jesse (2005-01-10). "Ding Dong, a Witch Is Hurt, but She Takes Her Final Bow". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  8. Wolf, Matt (2006-09-25). "Idina Menzel". (London). Retrieved 2008-02-18. [dead link]
  9. theatre, powerhouse (2008-06-30). "Idina Menzel highlights casting for Nero". Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  10. "Idina Menzel - Still I Can't Be Still". Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  11. Gans, Andrew (November 11, 2008). "Tony Winner Menzel to Perform During Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade". Playbill. 
  12. Gans, Andrew (November 27, 2008). "Macy's Parade Features White Christmas, In the Heights, South Pacific, Hair and Mermaid". Playbill. [...]and Tony winner Idina Menzel will offer "I Stand" on the M&M's on Broadway float. 
  14. Nathan Lane, Idina Menzel, Brian d'Arcy James and More to Perform Broadway Celebration at White House
  15. "Hitched: Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs". Variety. 2003-01-30. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  16. Idina Menzel
  17. McKinley, Jesse (2004-12-06). "Witch Hunt". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  19. "23rd Annual Night of A Thousand Gowns". The Imperial Court of New York. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  20. "Idina Menzel - No Day But Today (Pace Academy Benefit in Atlanta, GA 5/17/09) video". 
  21. "IBDB: Philip McAdoo". 
  22. "Pace Academy: About Pace". 

External links

Template:Idina Menzel Template:TonyAward MusicalLeadActress 2001-2025

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