Idina Menzel thrills sold-out crowd

Concert review

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Fans of "Glee," "Wicked" and "Rent" packed Heinz Hall Wednesday night for a sold-out show starring Idina Menzel.

It was a beautiful sight to see the place filled with an audience ranging from 5 to 95 years old from all walks of life.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra sounded beautifully crisp under the baton of Lawrence Loh, who brought a first-half program that included the overture to "Candide," and selections from "Les Miserables" and "Wicked" alive to an expectant audience. The electricity must have filled the air because everything sounded so on target and the selections only heightened the anticipation for Ms. Mendel.

She took the stage after intermission to rousing applause and looked elegant and relaxed in a Grecian column gown in a shade of deep purple that set off her striking features.

She started with "Life of the Party," showcasing those Broadway chops, and then began telling the audience stories about being dragged up to sing "The Way We Were," Barbra Streisand-style, at every bat mitzvah when she was growing up.

She sang an amazing version of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" that was woven with The Police's "Roxanne." The effect was jarring and beautiful all at once. Hearing the PSO make the transition was also a treat.

"Funny Girl" took on a life of its own when Ms. Menzel told what happened when she met her idol at the Kennedy Center honors -- she sang "Don't Rain on My Parade" with Ms. Streisand in the audience.

"We were seated at the same table at the after party and she didn't say a word. Finally, after people were commenting on my performance, she asked, 'Was that you? I didn't have my glasses on and couldn't see you -- you did good.' "

Some contemporary music followed with "Gorgeous," a Menzel original, and "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga. I never dreamed I'd be hearing that out of the PSO!

Ms. Menzel, who was in the original off-Broadway cast of "Rent," sang "No Day But Today," dedicating the poignant song to the show's creator, Jonathan Larson, who died of an aneurysm at age 36 one day before the show opened.

She lightened it up with a mini-medley of songs she sings to newborn son Walker (hubby is Taye Diggs) that was full of a bluesy swing.

The evening ended with a show-stopping "Defying Gravity" that had the audience cheering for more. It came in the form of "Tomorrow," the perfect goodbye.

Rosa Colucci: or 412-263-1661.


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