Left – Idina Menzel. Photo – Robin Wong
A lush 55-piece Melbourne Pops Orchestra started playing, and a voice off-stage started singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. From that moment on and for almost two hours, the audience at Hamer Hall were in the palm of the hand of Broadway's bare-footed Diva, Idina Menzel.
After appearing at the recent Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Sydney's Opera House, Brisbane's QPAC, the tour finished in Melbourne, with the leading lady acknowloging that she had saved the best till last. And Idina never put a (bare) foot wrong.
To say that she was made to feel welcome by Melbourne, would be an understatement, with fans cheering and screaming after nearly every number. And the star seemed to savour every moment.
It takes a lot to put together this type of evening in concert, having to balance the choice of material, with interesting anecdotes and a performer with personality who can engage with their audience.
There was never a dull moment in the show, as Idina and her arranger blended Broadway showstoppers (Funny Girl's Don't Rain on My Parade) and pop/rock classics from Joni Mitchell (Both Sides Now) to Lady Gaga (Poker Face).
One of the many highlights was an arrangement of Cole Porter's Love for Sale which seemlessly merged into Sting's Roxanne.
Having originated the roles of Maureen (Rent) and Elphaba (Wicked) on Broadway, the evening had to include these shows.
An impromtu invitation to audience members to assist with singing Take Me or Leave Me brought out some amazingly talented soloists and even included Australian performer Helen Dallimore (currently appearing in Legally Blonde and Idina's co-star in the original London production of Wicked).
Without a microphone and unaccompanied, Idina ended the show with a beautiful version of For Good, leading into the rousing signature Defying Gravity which brought the crowd to a unanimous standing ovation.
A tribute to the late great Marvin Hamlisch and even one of her own compositions completed the night.
One of the pleasant surprises was the sense of humour and playfulness of the performer. Often joking with the audience, Idina got one of the biggest laughs of the night when she asked if there were any straight men in the front row. As if.
The orchestra led by Vanessa Scammell sounded fantastic, with sound and lighting used effectively.
But in the end it was the incredible powerhouse vocal ability and sheer talent of Idina Menzel that made this truly an evening to remember.
Tim Woods and The Music House present
Idina Menzel in Concert
with the Melbourne Pops Orchestra
Venue: Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
Date: 30 June, 2013
Tickets: from $95.00
Booking: artscentremelbourne.com.au | 1300 182 183 | ticketmaster.com.au | 136 100