HUMBLING, very humbling. That’s how Broadway superstar Idina Menzel describes being turned away from her own rehearsal at the Apollo last week when staff failed to recognise her as she showed up for a week-long residency.
“My face was everywhere outside , but no one would let me in,” explains the 41-year-old, who won a Tony Award for her performance in Stephen Schwartz’s spellbinding hit Wicked, was an original cast member of the rock musical Rent, and has made many film and television appearances over the years, most recently in Glee.
On Tuesday, staff at the Usher Hall would do well to allow her into the venue as she arrives to perform the musical theatre songs that made her famous and new material from her solo work, backed by a 25-piece orchestra.
“I’m always changing it up because I’m perpetually touring so I want to keep things fresh,” says the New Yorker of her show’s setlist. “I changed a bunch of things and kept some of the staples, but I try to keep it moving and put in some new songs that I’m excited about. And some new arrangements.
“I’m doing Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel and a few surprises, plus a few more theatre songs that I’ve always wanted to sing. It’s pretty eclectic. I kept what keeps me interested, just songs that I have always wanted to perform - I gave myself a licence to do that.
“Every night I have a different favourite song,” she adds.
No stranger to performing in this country, Menzel says she doesn’t find audiences on this side of the pond are much different to those in the US, and gets warm welcome every time she steps on to a stage.
“When I lived in London, when I did Wicked there, everyone told me the audiences might be much more reserved, but I found it was completely the opposite,” she says. “They jumped to their feet sooner, even more enthusiastically than the New York audiences did - and they were just as warm and as enthusiastic and supportive as New York.
“So it was a pleasant surprise for me. Especially when you’re away from home, to have people be so supportive of you is almost more impactful because you can’t believe that you’re across an ocean and people know about you and care about you.”
Indeed it’s this incredible connection she seems to have with her fans that makes it all worthwhile.
“It’s so amazing to have this wonderful rapport with an audience - the younger fans especially”, she says. “I mean, I hear from them about their personal lives and their personal stories and I meet them backstage all the time. They tell me how they’ve been inspired by a song of mine or a character I’ve played or something like that and how it really resonated with them - and that’s really why I do it. That’s why I do this.”
• Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Tuesday, 7.30pm, £25–£60, 0131-228 1155