Thursday, October 9, 2008

I Sorta Hate Broadway But Mostly Like Idina

This is kind of random, but it lets me announce that I generally hate Broadway shows, so I'll go for it.

I just saw that Idina Menzel is performing at a local theatre company to promote her new CD. Idina played Elphaba, future Wicked Witch of the West, in the original Broadway cast of Wicked. I saw the show by chance and am very glad I did. A coworker had to sell her ticket, and it was my b-day week, so I justified the $120 purchase. This was just after the show opened on Broadway. I'm not the sort of organized go-getter who manages to get tickets like that, which is maybe why I hate Broadway shows. I see all the bad ones you're able to get tickets to (Victor Victoria, Miss Saigon, Gypsy, Phantom of the Opera).

Wicked is the one Broadway show (besides Les Mis) I have ever enjoyed. The story line was interesting (the origins of The Wizard of Oz's witches, Tin Man, Lion, etc.) and the two main actresses, Idina and Kristen Chenowith, were absolutely incredible. If you've heard the Wicked CD, that's them singing. Idina Menzel's voice was so powerful. This is why I am so disappointed by the clips I heard of her new CD (I Stand) on iTunes.

The songs are cheesy ("Better To Have Loved," "Don't Let Me Down," "My Own Worst Enemy"), and her voice is just too big to be contained on a dinky CD. It sounds constrained and out of place amidst the controlled, fake pop background. Anyone can sing pop, so why waste her voice? OK, if that CD were her vision and what she believed in, fine, but it seems like she went for the easy, harmless sell. Why not showcase her voice, like that amazing Josh Groban does? That guy is good, and it's all about his voice. His voice is made for soaring arias, and so is Idina's, even if her arias are more the Broadway solo type.

On Idina's official youtube channel, there's a nice acoustic version of one song, "I Stand" (see clip below), but as far as I can tell, it's the only acceptable song. Since it's acoustic, it sounds more musical-y than poppy.

The woman is made for live singing, and if you're going to put her on a CD, it just needs to be better than the one she's putting forth.

I also found a clip of Idina singing a song from the Beowulf movie, and that is also musical-y. Really pretty, actually: A Hero Comes Home. Here's a clip:

About hating Broadway: the slow songs are always terrible, and I always fall asleep in them. Broadway humor is hokey. I always get the bad seats. Most of the music stinks. Half of the shows are 20 years old and outdated. I do hear that Avenue Q is good. (Hint, hint, husband.)


Always Home and Uncool said...

I take it that it's not Lit's version of "My Own Worse Enemy."

Try some of the local Stamford theatre -- some a pretty good, especially Curtain Call. Cheaper and you are supporting the local arts.

Mr. Z said...

We are going to see David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow next weekend. It will be my first trip to "Broadway" since moving down from Boston, but it's technically not a musical.

Mrs. Z went to see Clay Aiken in Monty Python's Spamalot...if I recall she was pleasantly surprised that Clay wasn't a total disaster...

Anonymous said...

Idina's been to Connecticut a few times this past year performing her solo (and Broadway) stuff on tour. It's a shame you missed her! All those songs are a hundred times better live than on the CD.

She's going on tour again this spring, all over the east coast, so maybe you'll get a chance to see her again. Just like Wicked was worth it, so is she. :)