Review: Idina Menzel with the ISO

Broadway star Idina Menzel performed with the ISO, Wednesday, March 2.




Symphony Orchestra, Hilbert Circle Theatre, March 2.


orchestra opened with a vamp and within a few bars, unpretentiously, IdinaMenzel appeared, simply

engaging in a svelte purple Grecian draped gown, barefoot, her long hair parted

down the middle and freely flowing. The SRO audience went wild. She

acknowledged us, the orchestra, and Matthew Kraemer, Richmond-native/Butler

music graduate making his ISO debut as ISO guest conductor-- and literally

floated to the microphone to deliver the Jackson 5 favorite "Life of the



setting the tone, Menzel shared almost two hours [no

intermission] of seamless, natural chatting connecting us to biographical

moments with 16 songs meticulously arranged by Rob Mounsey

for a symphony and combo. Her melodious voice and storytelling approach marries

music with lyrics for character development. She surrounds a portrayal with

enough time for us to absorb personality and situation, which she attributes to

a sensitive director who showed her how to imagine a live person in a real


Her delivery of Cole Porter's "Love For

Sale" [1930 musical The New Yorkers]

alongside "Roxanne" [The Police] was lush with layers of emotion. She's superb

as a balladeer, painting landscapes as with Barbra Streisand's

standards, "Funny Girl" and "Don't Rain on My Parade;" Jimmy Webb's "Asleep on

the Wind;" Harburg and Lane's "Look to the Rainbow;"

and her own "Gorgeous [with Bassel]. Was it a comedy

club routine to forget the lyrics to Lady Ga-Ga's

"Poker Face"? The audience loved it and joined in the chorus. "Walker" and "Smoochy" are her new songs inspired by her now 18-month old

son, Walker.


Rent she gave us "No Day But Today;" from Wicked

we were gifted with "I'm Not That Girl," "Defying Gravity" and a moving a cappella,

no amplification portrayal of "For Good." That's gutsier than flying.


what completely endeared Menzel was her recognition

of the pre-show lobby concert by the WZPL-FM 99.5 Smiley Morning Show Glee

Club. "Are you in the audience?" she asked. The house lights went up, three of

the 15-member group stood up. "Come on down." Dennis Gill, Jordan Rattenbury and Stephanie DeWeese

delivered a spirited "Seasons of Love" with Menzel

joining in but deferring the solo to DeWeese.

Menzel closed the program with an adult-nuanced version of "Tomorrow," for

her mother, who nixed her childhood desire to audition for Annie. "She wanted me to have a normal childhood." The audience



on the Smiley Glee Club


Smiley Morning Show Glee Club is a grass-roots professional choir made up

entirely of listeners of The Smiley Morning Radio Show on 99.5 WZPL-FM. After

being inspired by Fox's TV show Glee, The Smiley Morning Show held

auditions via youtube and live on the show through

October 2010 to find their own talent. After receiving more than 50 auditions,

a panel of music and dancing experts selected the final group of 15 who would

become The Smiley Morning Show Glee Club. The group will perform at shows

around Indianapolis and will focus on pop music. The choir is directed by

Stephanie DeWeese, choreographed by Adrienne Pfaffenberger and produced by Will Pfaffenberger.


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