Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Idina Menzel

The 2013 Adelaide Cabaret Festival has drawn to end. After three glorious weeks of high quality entertainment, the anticipation and excitement surrounding the final chapter was palpable. No doubt the organisers deliberated over how to draw the curtain on such a successful event – the answer: Idina Menzel.

Idina Menzel
Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel, it turns out, has a LOT of Australian fans. The thunderous applause, cheers, whistles and screams (I think that at some point some chaps in the front row were close to fainting due to the close proximity – particularly after one scored a hug!) were testament to the audience’s appreciation. It was Menzel’s first visit to Adelaide, and indeed to Australia, but given her rapturous reception, she would be crazy not to return.

Her powerhouse voice is hugely recognisable. The original Maureen from Rent and Elphaba from Wicked is a musical theatre superstar. The audience reveled in her performance of every musical theatre number, particularly the unmiked and unaccompanied ‘For Good’ (imagine having a voice that can, unsupported, fill the Adelaide Festival Theatre!! Ridiculous!) and ‘What I Did For Love’.

Her renditions of popular songs like Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ and the fusion of ‘Love for Sale’ and ‘Roxanne’ showed diversity and creativity, and further highlighted her immense voice. I certainly wanted more. And more.

Idina Menzel was accompanied by the predictably flawless Adelaide Art Orchestra (led by the glamorous Vanessa Scammell), and the collaboration was perfect. With such an amazing voice, I was half expecting a musical powerplay between orchestra and diva. There was no such struggle, however the formidable vocalist did maintain a sustained level of vocal power that left me hoping for an unaccompanied number (thank you Idina for reading my thoughts).

Despite an impressive biography, including a Tony Award nomination and win, the diva is, in fact, human. Combining jetlag and the dry Adelaide weather, Menzel struggled with the odd note and required multiple lozenges for maintenance (it turns out that amplified lozenge sucking is quite unpleasant). But it’s all part of the comedy. Menzel’s audience interaction, patter and presence demonstrates that she is clearly comfortable in the spotlight. Very comfortable. Barefoot comfortable.

The undeniable highlight of the evening was the hysterically brilliant interpretation of ‘Take Me Or Leave Me’ – involving three audience members who just happened to be able to sing in three part harmony. What a thrill!

Nothing less than four standing ovations could demonstrate the audience’s appreciation. The ovations and encores were the perfect end to a perfect Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

As I always say, can’t wait for next year!

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