Idina Menzel: 'When I listen to Joni Mitchell, I want to quit singing'

Interview,Adam Jacques
Sunday 23 October 2011 01:35

My first job on broadway, in 'rent', was life-changing I'd been a wedding singer through college, but after a few years of doing my best renditions of jazz standards to clinking glasses and the sound of forks on salad, I thought, "Oh God, if this is all I do, I'll never be able to live with myself."

Most wedding singers have seen a heart attack on the dance floor Once I saw a guest collapse when I was on stage. I wasn't sure how to handle it, so I looked to the band leader and said to him, "Let's stop!" But he said, "No, the band always plays on." The bride came over and screamed at us. I felt weirded out by that.

'Glee' is ground-breaking in how it deals with sexuality [Menzel plays the lead character Rachel's biological mother.] For many young people, sexuality is a taboo, so I love how the show portrays characters such as Kurt Hummel. Viewers look up to him and it doesn't matter that he's gay.

The more successful I get, the more terrified I become as I have more to lose People have these incredible expectations. So instead of being inspired by, say, Joni Mitchell's music, I look at it and say to myself, "I'm going to quit – why would I think of writing or performing after listening to that?" It's why you go to therapy.

My two-year old son is a great dancer He's so jubilant about it and has his own little choreography: he does back-steps, side-steps, reach-ups... He loves Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" and Bruno Mars. We loop them over and over.

Being a mother has made me a better artist I used to take 40 minutes to warm up before going on stage. If you want to spend time with your child as well as having a career, you have to get up there even if your head's a mess. It's made me more relaxed, and I'm having some of my best shows.

It's been a dream of mine to run my own summer camp I went to one as a kid, and I put on productions, and got lots of confidence. Camp Broader Way [set up by Menzel with her husband] is for disadvantaged people who wouldn't necessarily have the opportunity to express themselves through the arts.

Idina Menzel, 40, is an actress and singer. For more information on her arts charity, visit

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments