No backup singers, no light show, no gimmicks. And after a couple of songs, no shoes even. Just Idina and her voice, which was flawless and spectacular. And it was more than enough.
I adore Idina Menzel, but I had always filed her under those “I will never hear them live in my lifetime” artists. I rarely go on Facebook now, but that one time I did check, the first item I saw on my news feed was the announcement that her world tour would include the Philippines. After my screams died down, some major-level planning ensued. As per usual, we waited online to snap up tickets the moment they were released. (My friend and I even seriously planned to wait in shifts just in case they decided to sneak in some early ticket selling. It didn’t happen). And as with The Script mini-fiasco, we had another fail. At the stroke of 10 and the start of ticket selling, we discovered that we had forgotten our account passwords and had to reset them. What the actual hell. But, long story short, we eventually made it and got some pretty good seats too.
If the Witches’ Coven had a spirit animal, it would be Idina. We absolutely love her, and we can sing the entire Wicked musical at the drop of a hat. We were Team Idina all the way when news of her personal troubles came out. We worship her.
Her set list consisted of some Broadway classics, a couple of slightly left-field modern song choices (Love For Sale / Roxanne mashup and Creep, anyone?), and tunes from her most famous roles as Elphaba in Wicked and Maureen in Rent. As the house lights went down, various audio snippets of her interviews played. Last thing we heard was “Which way to the stage?”, and then suddenly she was right there. Standing against a white curtain, looking magnificent and absolutely glowing. She looked like a Barbie doll, in the best way possible. She went straight to “Defying Gravity”, and I swear to you I am getting goosebumps just writing this.
Her last song was, of course, “Let It Go”. I know everyone is sick of that song by now, but that was my anthem when I left my last job so I’ll never tire of it. We knew what to expect for this song, because when she was on Ellen, Idina said that she would try to sing parts of it in the local language of the countries she was visiting. Ellen even gave her a bunch of Rosetta Stone translation software on the show, and the most prominent one was the Tagalog version. One thing needs to be made clear: no one translates English songs to Tagalog here. So that was where we learned that “Let It Go” in Tagalog is “Bumitaw”. And Idina was hilariously adorable trying to sing in Tagalog. She could not say the words and asked the crowd to help her, to which everyone responded with a collective “Huh”? Nobody knows it in Tagalog, Idina!
The most emotional part though was when she sang the songs from Wicked. That was when the enormity of the whole thing hit us. We’ve loved that musical since it came out, but never got the chance to see her and Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway. The only hope we ever had of seeing them again was if they made a movie version, but it’s pretty clear that with the time it’s taken to get that going, they are not even considered for the roles now. So we’d given up that hope. But to hear Idina singing “Defying Gravity”, “The Wizard and I”, and “For Good” live was an unforgettable experience. Now, when we listen to the albums we can tell each other, we heard that from Idina live!
Sometimes, some songs become more than just songs. “For Good” is one of those songs that evoke all our hopes and dreams mixed in with our feelings for Kristin and Idina and friendships. She sang a capella, with no mic. Her voice carried all the way to the upper box, and the whole arena was so silent you could hear a pin drop. At the very last line, the crowd couldn’t help themselves and sang back the line because I knew you, I have been changed for good.
It was amazing how an arena show could seem so intimate. Even if we knew the songs, there was no desire to sing along because all we wanted was to hear her voice. As my niece put it, wow – that’s what it’s like to be in the presence of a Tony winner.
I didn’t think I could love her more, but I do now. Dear Idina, please can we be best friends?