Idina Menzel

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Born

5/30/1971 , Queens, New York, United States

Birth Name

Idina Kim Idina Mentzel

Gender

Female

Biography:

Idina Menzel, born Idina Mentzel, was born in Queens, New York, on May 30, 1971, to Stuart and Helene Mentzel. She dropped the "t" in her name when she was in her 20s because it was constantly pronounced wrong. It should be pronounced "Menzelle, - like French, but not." Her first name was for her grandmother Ida and it means gentle in Hebrew. She moved in between Queens and New Jersey until she was in 2nd grade, when her parents settled in Syosset, Long Island. She always wanted to be a singer. When she was 5, counselors at her summer camp noticed she was subconsciously harmonizing to "Cat's in the Cradle." She was told this was a special gift and was encouraged to sing in front of people and preformed in talent shows and grade school musicals. Ironically enough, when she was 8, she played Dorothy in the elementary school's performance of The Wizard of Oz. Later that year, she started vocal lessons and was trained in classical singing until she reached high school. At that time, she became more interested in R&B and jazz.


Idina stared in Syosset High School's production of the musical Carousel as the 60-year old Nettie because the director felt her voice sounded the most mature. Later that year, Idina wanted to do more with her voice, lied about her age and auditioned for a wedding band. She learned much about different styles of music over the 8 years she sang with various wedding bands, including jazz, rock, oldies, and Motown. Idina attended the New York University's Tisch School of Drama and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Drama. She originally wanted to major in music, but switched because she was unhappy with the school's music department. After grauduation, she began to focus more on writing her own music and performing.


Almost broke and wanting to keep her dreams alive, Idina auditioned for an off-Broadway show, RENT and got the role of Maureen, a bisexual performance artist. RENT was an instant hit, it opened off Broadway on January 14, 1996 and went to Broadway opening on April 29, 1996. Idina was nominated for a Tony Award for her role as Maureen, but she unfortunately did not win. She left RENT on July 1, 1997 when Hollywood Records approached her with a recording deal. "Still I Can't Be Still" was released in September 15, 1998. Unfortunately, it did not sell and was dropped from the record label in 1999.


A depressed Idina returned to the New York stage to star as Kate in The Wild Party on February 24, 2000 through April 2, 2000. Idina was becoming a Broadway star and began to perform in benefits and was the second Amneris in Adia during the fall of 2001.


After she left RENT, Idina began dating her RENT and The Wild Party co-star, Taye Diggs. The two were married in Jamaica, where Taye shot How Stella Got Her Groove Back , on January 11, 2003. The term "Tidina" was created by hard-core RENT heads to describe the two. The two are very close and Idina says that Taye picks out her clothes! The couple say they want kids in the future although they are both currently focusing on their careers.


In 2003, Idina got her biggest break which made her into a huge Broadway star. She was living in San Francisco and heard about a new musical Wicked, which told the true story of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. Idina felt an instant connection to the role of Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West), put on some green makeup and went to audition. She got the part and Wicked was an instant hit, going to Broadway on October 30, 2003 at the Gershwin Theatre. The show has been sold out every night since then. Idina won a Tony Award, best leading actress in a musical, for her performance. She also released a second CD, "Here" on February 10, 2004. On January 8, 2005, Idina was injured and was unable to continue her role. She came onstage to a 5 minute long standing ovation on January 9th.


Idina took a brief break from performing after Wicked. In early May 2005, she began filming the movie version of RENT where she reprised her role as Maureen. The director, Chis Columbus, was originally going to cast a younger Maureen (who is supposed to be in her 20s) but he felt that Idina looked young enough for the part. The movie opened on November 23, 2005 to mixed reviews, and has not been nominated for many awards. One of the major complaints from viewers of the RENT movie was that they wanted to hear more of Idina's singing! It was released on DVD on February 21, 2006. She spent summer 2005 touring with her band, performing her own music, and songwriting. She says that she wants to tour more in the future. A third album is in the works and will be released later this year, this time by Warner Bros. Records. Idina also presented at the 2005 Tehnical Tony Awards. From September to December, Idina started in See What I Wanna See at the New York Public Theatre, the soundtrack for which was released on March 7, 2006. She also is appearing in the movies The Tollbooth, released February 2, 2006, and Ask the Dust with Collin Farrell, March 10, 2006. Recently, Idina peformed in several benefits, including The Public Sing!, a benefit for the New York Public Theatre and Katie Couric's benefit Hollywood Meets Motown for colon cancer research.


Idina has one of the most successful careers for a Broadway star. RENT had its 10th Anniversary on 4/24/06, making it the 6th longest running show on Broadway. Idina performed in a benefit for the show in which the entire original Broadway cast came back for one special preformance on 4/24/2006. The event took place at the Nederlander Theatre in NYC. The entire theatre was packed at it was a great success! In 2007, she will star in the half live-action, half cartoon movie called Enchatned, alongside Amy Adams, Grey's Anatomy's Patrick Dempsey, and Susan Sarandon. It is a Disney movie,and should be out next February. Idina says that now is one of the sweetest times of her life and she is so happy to be living through it.

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