Six years ago, Broadway star Idina Menzel came to London to reprise her Tony Award-winning role as ‘Elphaba’ in the new West End production of Wicked. During her time at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, Menzel more than won over the audiences with her performance and earned herself a Whatsonstage.com Award for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ – London declared their love for her, and she clearly reciprocates as she is once again soon to return to our shores for a series of concert dates.
It is a little less than two weeks until Menzel arrives at the Apollo Theatre for a week-long performance, which she is set to follow up with appearances in Edinburgh and Manchester. Backed up by a 25-piece orchestra, she will dip into her vast repertoire to deliver songs from her musical theatre past, as well as a selection of the songs she has previously written and recorded for her albums and numbers from hit TV show Glee, on which she has a recurring role.
It was autumn 2011 that Menzel last performed here in London, with a one-night-only spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall. The concert was a huge success, which is hardly surprising when its headliner is such a success herself. She is widely acclaimed on the boards of Broadway for originating, not only the role of ‘Elphaba’, but ‘Maureen’ in Rent (which she also played in the 2005 film adaption) too. In addition to her stage work she has released three original albums – Still I Can’t Be Still, Here and I Stand – along with a CD and DVD recording of her 2011 tour Live: Barefoot at the Symphony. She has also transcended to the world of film and television: her Glee character of rival Glee club coach and teacher ‘Shelby Corcoran’ has proven popular with fans of the show and she has also enjoyed roles in Disney films Enchanted and Frozen, the latter of which is due for release in 2013.
Menzel is at the Apollo Theatre in London from 8th-14th October, before moving on to Usher Hall, Edinburgh on 16th October and Palace Theatre, Manchester on 17th October.
Of course, if you’re looking for something to satisfy that quench for musical theatre goodness before then, a visit to The Pheasantry this Sunday may be just what you need. The return of Back To The Musicals may be a far more intimate gig than the one Menzel is hosting on the stage of the Apollo, but none the less entertaining for it. Following on from the previous two shows in the series earlier this year, Back To The Musicals continues to bring audiences a chronicle of the history of musical theatre in five-year periods, starting with 1950-1955 on Sunday 30th September. The cast of up-and-coming performers from the West End features Jennifer Coyle – creator and director of BTTM – Benjamin Mahns-Mardy, Emma-Jane Morton and Paul Edward-Wilkinson, all of whom will perform a selection of songs from the musicals of that era as they explore the history of musical theatre in what is billed as an, ‘encyclopaedic journey through the art form’. Audiences at Sunday’s cabaret can expect to hear songs from hit (and miss) shows such as Calamity Jane, Call Me Madam, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, Singin’ in the Rain and The King and I, among others.
The series continues at The Pheasantry in the winter with its 1955-1960 time window. On Sunday 11th November, the cast will bring songs from musicals such as High Society, My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The Boyfriend and West Side Story. Both cabarets are under the musical direction of Nicholas Chave and include the premiere of an original composition from the award-winning writing team of Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary, who have been specially commissioned to write a theme song for each one of the series. Back To The Musicals promises to be a night to look back and bask in the golden glow of musical theatre of times gone by.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 27th September 2012