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Author Topic: Idina Menzel with the Pittsburgh Symphony 21 July 2013  (Read 2758 times)
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« on: July 22, 2013, 06:00:23 AM »

I have attended some great concerts over the last 5 years or so. This one ranks not only as one of the best, but also one of the most interesting. Idina used some language that might offend some people. Its important to mention that in my review, because thats one of the things that distinguished this show. Yet I also sort of, how to say, cleaned it up a bit? I wouldn't be surprised if a mod edits this, BUT, not sure how and still get the ideas across. But here is a LONG review (I know what a surprise coming from me!)  Shocked

edit: here is a link from one of our newspapers that did a review. That reviewer counted 6 F-bombs!

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/theatre-dance/Idina-Menzel-goes-barefoot-with-Pittsburgh-Symphony-696420/
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 01:42:27 PM by cash » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2013, 06:01:38 AM »

The show MUST go on, with 3 F bombs and a T bomb too!
Idina Menzel with the Pittsburgh Symphony  21  July  2013

   Back in January, the Pittsburgh Symphony  Orchestra (PSO) did a tribute show in honor of Marvin Hamlisch. He had very close ties over many years with the PSO, and everyone connected with the Symphony felt a loss when he died. The tribute show, entitled One Singular Sensation,  included many Broadway stars, but the biggest appearing, in my opinion,  was Idina Menzel. 
   I had seen her perform at Heinz hall with the PSO a couple of years back, and the sell out show was one of the best I’ve ever seen.  Idina told funny jokes  as well as sad, thought provoking, and inspirational  stories, with her songs. One song would make you laugh, but the following song might make you want to cry. Few people can move an audience in the way she does. She even sang us a song that she wrote and sings to her baby boy. Plus she has incredible vocal talent. Her voice combines power with quality. Few vocalists can hit and hold high notes the way she can. About the only thing missing from her show back then was visual effect. She didn’t dance around or move much. The only lighting effect came on the song “Roxanne” when the Hall turned on red lights on stage when she sang the lyrics “turn on the red light” But she really doesn’t need special effects to produce a special show. She is special, and when I heard that she was coming for the Hamlisch tribute, I immediately bought a ticket and luckily got a front row seat for the standing room only event!
   I knew that Idina had been touring a bit and had done a PBS Special Concert DVD entitled Barefoot at the Symphony. I also figured that she might return for a show here in Pittsburgh and that this Hamlisch tribute might be a good time for them to announce a concert and ticket sales. So I contacted my Symphony Rep in advance (I am a Symphony subscriber and donor) to get the scoop and hopefully tickets before anyone else. He refused to answer my question, only saying something cryptic, yet clear, like “I can not say anything now, but I bet we talk first thing tomorrow morning” so I KNEW something was up!
   I arrived at the Tribute show, took my seat, and looked through the cheap free program they pass out to everyone. On the back cover, there it was! The Idina concert announcement and the presale code to get the tickets. In bright red and it stated “BUY YOUR TICKETS BEFORE THE GENERAL PUBLIC!”  Of course all the Broadway fans in attendance (and it seemed like thousands!) quickly got out their smart phones and got on the internet to order tickets. But I hadn’t even brought my stone age cell phone, so I couldn’t order until I got home and on my computer. By then I was stuck with a mere second row seat.
   At first I was angry. I should have got front row. I thought subscribers got first shot at tickets for such concerts. The way they handled this allowed anyone in attendance that night to trump such priority. But I quickly came to my senses and put this all into perspective. Second row is pretty good! Except for maybe 30 people in the front row, everyone else in the theatre would be thrilled to swap seats with me. So I eventually became happy with the second row seat. 
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« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2013, 06:02:27 AM »


   Time went by, and that brings us to July 21, the night of Idina’s solo show. In preparation, I printed out a photo just in case she did an autograph signing. She didn’t but she did quickly sign a few things at the end of the show as she was still on stage. She has done that before. It started raining just as I left my place and headed to the bus stop for the 15 minute ride downtown. Sometimes I think there’s a storm cloud over me that follows me around. How often does it start to rain just as I leave for somewhere all dressed up? I arrived in plenty of time, but didn’t buy anything tonight from the very busy merchandise table, as I didn‘t see any good programs and all they had where the cheap venue programs, just like last time. . I headed into the seating area and spotted Celtic Woman fan Ann Marie over in the front row left seating  area. Well really second row but she was out on the end so it was sort of front row WAY over there. Then I went to my own seat and the show started.
   The Pittsburgh Symphony performed 3 medleys from Broadway shows. First West Side Story. The music for Someday sounded very “Celtic” for some reason! I wonder why? Resident Conductor Larry Loh turned and faced the audience to signal us to yell “Mamba” at the appropriate point on that part of the song. The PSO then did some Gershin  music from Girl Crazy and then followed that with music from Chicago. At times during that last number, the violin players didn’t use their bows but plucked the strings sort fo like guitars. The violinists also whistled a bit at times! Yes with their lips. NOT their instruments. They then gave us a brief intermission as they rolled out Idina’s piano player’s piano. Her drummer replaced the PSO drummer sitting directly in front of the conductor. I thought the guy looked a little like Beck and the song Two Turn Tables and a Microphone popped into my head.
   Then something strange started to happen. It looked like they were ready to roll, but where was Idina? Idina’s piano player is also her music director, and he was busy talking to the concert master. Well actually the guy serving as concert master this evening is like the vice deputy assistant  lieutenant concert master. OK maybe the chain of command isn’t THAT bad, but I know he wasn’t the number 1 (actual concert master) or number 2 (associate concert master) guy in command. The Symphony seemed to use only a fraction of the usual number of musicians tonight. But it was very clear that something was not right. I jotted down some notes (which ended up just about totally unreadable anyway) and the lady sitting to my left said “Are you a critic? Are you going to write that they were confused?” I told her I was just a bum that posted long winded and overly detailed  reviews that few read on fan forums and that I wasn’t paid to do it. Later I told the same thing to the guy sitting to my right when he asked me the same thing. Then the Conductor came out and explained.

   “IDINA IS SICK!”
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« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2013, 06:03:23 AM »



   OH NO!

   So they bought her a little time to get herself  together. I would guess they extended the intermission maybe 10 minutes,. It wasn’t that long.  Then the people on stage started playing the music for Over the Rainbow, but Idina still wasn’t on stage. What were they doing? Where they just going to play a few songs as instrumentals to reduce the number of songs she would sing? Then suddenly we heard her voice, but didn’t see her. I looked back, thinking maybe she was making a grand entrance from the back of the theatre. Other people had the same idea and I spotted a number of heads turned, only to turn back around to face forward with confused looks on their faces. Idina then came out the side door up there on stager and the show was on. First song was Over the rainbow combined with another song.
   This is not the complete set list. I know I missed some, either because I can’t read my writing or I didn’t know the name of the song.

Don’t Rain on my Parade
Both Sides Now
Love for sale / Roxanne combo Red lights turned on up on stage on the ‘red light’ lyrics, just like the last concert she did here.
What I did for love They brought out a piano bench and she kneeled on it like a little girl would do. She did the same thing at the Hamlisch tribute when she sang this song.  Said Hamlisch was like a Father figure to her
.I still haven’t found what I’m lookin’ for combined with another song
Take me or Leave Me  LOTS of fun with this song from Rent. She had people join her up on stage to sing it with her. She said something like “This song is a duet so I need help on it, plus since I am sick I need even more help.” Or something to that effect. She clearly knew the one guy she called up on stage. He had a very strong but high pitched voice (male soprano, bad mic or sound, or my bad ears?)  She told the one white guy “You don’t look like a black lesbian.” Then she made a quick explanation that the song is sung by a lesbian couple in Rent so people would understand why she said that. She also told the one young lady “You look like Glinda!” because she looked like that character from Wicked. She really did. Had blonde hair, very pretty, and a yellow dress. She asked the one girl “whats your name?” and she said “I am not going to tell you! You will get mad!” Idina then said “Why?” The girl responded “Its Rebecca!” Everyone burst out laughing! Earlier in the show, Idina had told a story that one of her hated rivals long ago was a woman named “Rebecca”.  Also, the one guy who had been sitting in the front row motioned for the lady he was with to take a photo of him up on stage there singing with Idina. I didn’t see her do it! That was definitely a time to try to break the “NO Photos” rule. Another funny point to this was how Idina pulled the mic away from some of these people after they were sort of stealing her thunder. It was in a kidding way and very funny.
No Day but Today The touching song from Rent
Defying Gravity   The one encore song that she did. She called that one guy back up on stage to sing it with her. He really belted out the high notes,. He did good.
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« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2013, 06:04:57 AM »



   Now to list a few other items that are very noteworthy.
   First, she also did a song called You Learn to Live with It  that’s from her new Broadway play called IF/THEN. I can’t remember where it was positioned in the show. It sounds like a great song. This show in Pittsburgh was her last concert before starting performances with that show. She thanked all of her band people, her sound guy, etc. for being loyal to her and working very hard on her tour.
   She did something very different during this show from the last show that I saw her do here a few years back. She danced! She also ran back and forth across the stage a few times. The longer dance was sort of disco-ish. She also jumped around a bit at other times but those were short lived. She did this despite being sick.
   And on the topic of her illness. The guy sitting next to me said he was a voice coach and that he could really tell that she was in a lot of pain. I did notice sweat on her face at times. And her voice didn’t have the raw animal power that she can project out. On the one song she would extend her arm with the mic out toward the audience, to tell us to sing a word or a line. I could clearly hear her natural voice off mic when she did this, but barely. I was second row dead center and she sounded very weak when off the mic.
   And now to discuss the more, how to say, interesting, humor and language used at this show. At one point she said “President Bush is my favorite President!” A few of us laughed! Most didn’t. But those of us in the audience that know a little about her realize that she is VERY liberal and a BIG supporter of President Obama. She made a reference to presidents the last time she was here too, and she was careful what she said and how she said it, as she was this time as well. But getting back to the show a few years ago, she said the word “sucked” then she joked “can I say that?” Well for this show, she took the language much farther. She said something like “I’m a simple girl” or close to that effect. Then she talked about shoes and dresses to wear when performing at Symphonies. She said that she considered wearing high heels like usual expected dress codes might dictate , but then just said “F*CK  IT!”  She was indeed barefoot. She also said something like “maybe my T!T$ will fall out” in reference to her dress, which really seemed kind of standard but also sort of , I don’t know, sun dress-ish? It didn’t have straps and looked sort of loose. She tugged it up a number of times. No wardrobe malfunctions tonight though. And she can legitimately blame the foul language on her meds!
   On a few songs, she sat down on a stool positioned center stage. But when she initially went to sit down, the stool wasn’t there! She laughed and said “Come on guys, you know I’m sick, where’s my F*CKIN’ stool?”. Lots of laughs from most people. I can’t remember the 3rd F Bomb now. But I counted 3 of them.
   Audience participation was great. The guy sitting next to me jumped up and cheered as soon as she came out on stage. He also said numerous times “I love her she is great!” The one young lady sitting in the front row, the one sitting with the one guy who got to go up on stage that wanted her to take a photo, was also an “avid “ fan. She jumped up and cheered as soon as Idina came out as well, and only sat down after Idina told her to and hand motioned  ‘sit down’ to her. I thought ushers might have to sedate that girl! Also, at the end of the show, the guy 2 seats to my left yelled out “YOU ROCK!” Good standing Os at the end. And as I already mentioned, Idina herself drafts volunteers into participating.
   In conclusion, few performers can interact and engage with an audience like Idina does. She can do it all, make you laugh, cry, inspire you, etc. She possesses an amazing voice and range. She added some dancing to this show to increase the visual component. And her language certainly makes things interesting and different from your normal performer or symphony. Perhaps some find this troubling. I can understand. But I think most love it. You can always go to a stuffy traditional concert or symphony. Every now and then its nice to attend something a bit different, as long as it doesn‘t go TOO far. .And too far is  a matter of personal opinion. You can’t please everyone.  Plus she did all this while sick. You can’t condemn her work ethic. The illness clearly reduced her energy and abilities, but she still put on an awesome show,
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2013, 10:29:00 AM »

Thanks so much for another entertaining and well written review. You certainly make me want to attend one of her shows!
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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2013, 04:23:58 PM »

Great review. I love Idina. I just love it she isn't really girly or acting 'male', but simply herself. And she has a great voice.
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2013, 10:02:29 AM »

Justme and I saw her last summer at the Mann Center. She was amazing
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