I actually wasn’t going to post about the “thing” this week regarding the marvelous Idina Menzel, but the more I thought about it, I realize I do have something to say.
The short version of the “thing” is that on New Year’s Eve, Idina Menzel (star of Broadway’s RENT, WICKED, AIDA), appeared on television and sang her big, huge Academy Award-winning song from Disney’s Frozen (the highest grossing animated film of all time), “Let It Go.”
This occurred in freezing cold weather while she is still starring on Broadway 8 shows a week in her Tony Award-nominated role in IF/THEN.
Unfortunately, as happens with live performances – made even more difficult in the cold and near the stroke of midnight – the end of the song didn’t end with the ‘perfection’ Idina normally brings to the table. And so, folks in the Twitterverse apparently took her to task for not being ‘perfect.’
Pardon the pun, but some Twitter users couldn’t “let it go.”
Never one to make excuses for her work (nor should she), Menzel did address the “thing” on her social media by posting a quote from an interview she had given months before,
The full text follows:
“There are about 3 million notes in a two-and-a-half-hour musical; being a perfectionist, it took me a long time to realize that if I’m hitting 75 percent of them, I’m succeeding. Performing isn’t only about the acrobatics and the high notes: It’s staying in the moment, connecting with the audience in an authentic way, and making yourself real to them through the music. I am more than the notes I hit, and that’s how I try to approach my life. You can’t get it all right all the time, but you can try your best. If you’ve done that, all that’s left is to accept your shortcomings and have the courage to try to overcome them.”
I think that’s the perfect answer to the silly criticism directed at the luminous Miss Menzel.
I’ve enjoyed her LIVE performances for almost two decades. One of the hallmarks of Idina’s work is that the material she’s made famous (and in turn, has made her famous) is the stuff of roller-coaster rides and high-end gymnastics – both vocal and emotional. We’re not talking about “Tea For Two.”
What Idina does so very, very well is commit to heart-stopping performances 100 percent. She walks the tightrope. And that’s what makes her such an exciting artist.
(p.s. to anyone who wants to criticize – get your butt up in front of millions of people over and over and show me how “perfect” you are every time.)
The thrill of live performances is the fact that sometimes, we fall, we crack, we trip, we miss the edge. And then we get back up and keep going.
Ask Greg Louganis, who famously hit his head on the springboard in front of the entire world at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He recovered and minutes later returned to earn the highest single score in that qualifying round, and win the gold medal.
When I was in my early 20s, I was cast as an actor and dancer in one of the earliest companies of the hit show CATS. As the “magical Mr. Mistoffelees” I performed a highly technical, physically challenging dance solo in the second act. To be honest, it may have been beyond my technical prowess in the beginning. The pressure of the dance wore on me mentally, but performing the dance for over 800 audiences taught me much about how I judge myself and my work. And yes, I rose to the occasion.
Was I perfect every time? No. But, the few times I might have been less than perfect doing turns “in second” in front of 2,000 people taught me much about (here it is again) “letting go.”
I won’t post Idina’s NYE performance – I’m not going to feed the senseless frenzy. But you can watch the NYE performance on YouTube if so inclined.
I’m a huge fan of Idina. For her immense talent; for her depth and sensitivity to her material.
And, for inspiring so many of us to have the courage/nerve/chutzpah to keep getting up.