Idina Menzel - Let it go

After all of the smack talk about Carrie Underwood's performance in the Sound of Music, many in the Broadway community were so excited to see a true Broadway veteran take to the stage tonight and show the world how it's done. Well… what did we learn?


When it comes to a live performance, we are all human.


Just to recap for a sec. John Travolta was in charge of introducing the Broadway Star. And… here's how that went.


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Wait… WHAT????

Ok, so when you have ONE job, to announce ONE name, you should probably make sure you know that name. I'm going to try and say he just got tongue tied, it's something that could have happened to any of us – but he doesn't even seem to realize there was a mistake! He could have easily corrected himself. (Update!! 3/3/14 – There are also reports that John Travolta is dyslexic and that names are really difficult for some dyslexic people. If this is the case, I wish he would make some sort of statement either making light of the subject or using it as an opportunity to talk about this learning disability.)

INSTEAD, he leaves Idina Menzel (who is straight off a plane from NYC where she's in tech for a new show) standing there in front of roughly 40 million people, ready to sing a song that has been loved/obsessed over (and overplayed) for her oscar debut being announced as ADELE DAZEEM!? OY!

One of my all time favorite sayings is “It's not how you fall, it's how you get up.” So this is a moment where she should have thought – “uhhh ok? That's not my name. That's not even close to my name! But, you know what, after I sing the heck out of this song tonight EVERYONE will know my name!” As I watched it again, I started thinking that I might have actually just started laughing and said – yeah, that's not my name. (Which would not have been a good choice.)

Who knows what was actually going through her head. The beginning of the song was fine, but by the end it was apparent that this high beltress was off her game. She seemed nervous and as she got to the last phrase she sang… “Let the storm rage Ahhhhh crackle  Ahhhn! The cold never bothered me anyway.”  Ack! Oh NO! It's a perfect example of what happens when you push your sound out of your mouth as opposed to keeping it in like I talked about in this post/video.


If you missed Idina's performance of Let It Go from Frozen on the Oscars tonight – here it is.

Now, to be super duper duper clear. I am not claiming to have ANYTHING over the clear magic of Miss Menzel's talent. Many of the belting techniques I teach have a lot to do with a style of singing that she has helped make so popular in the world of musical theatre. And, I know she is in tech for her new show If/Then, so I'm sure she's super exhausted.

However, I think it's important to talk about the fact that this can happen to ANYONE. Recognizing this makes it even more important to take your technique seriously. Many people feel that they can just sing without having to craft their instrument. They seem to think that there are some people to whom singing just comes naturally, and that it isn't something that needs to be worked on. Well, that is so not the case! It's important to warm up, to take care of your instrument, to get enough sleep, to eat right, to take care of yourself emotionally so you are not thrown off when someone butchers your name, to study vocal technique and develop a set of tools that work for you.

I've already read several articles (like this one) saying that Idina's performance was flawless… so maybe I'm going to upset loads of people by talking about that note. But, as I said earlier, I think it's important to remember that we are all human, and our voices can takes us by surprise no matter how big of a Broadway super star we are.

So, what do you think? Do you agree or am I way off? Did you love this performance? Is it reassuring or terrifying to know that even Broadway super stars are human?

OOOO – Another little update (3/4/14) Check out this version on Jimmy Fallon. So much better! Relaxed, having fun, (maybe a half step lower) and sounding awesome!

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Molly Mahoney Shimmer and Shine

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Keith says:

    Wonderful article and completely agree that she’s human just like the rest of us. I felt awful for her with the name thing, but it was extremely reassuring to know that Broadway stars get nervous, let it affect them, and can even crack from it!

    I hope that all of the theatre kids out there watching realize how professional she handled the crack though. You can’t let it stop you. You just (pardon the pun) “let it go” and keep singing until the end. Of course you overanalyze the heck out of it for the next week (It was totally an emotional crack when i sang Someone to Fall Back On last week :-P), but until the performance is over, you still give your 200% and forget about it!

    • Molly Mahoney says:

      Great point! I always liken it to an ice skater. Once they fall, they get up and keep going. And… the “post-crack-mental-replay” is the worst! She has so much coming up on the horizon, I hope she’s able to take Elsa’s advice and “let it go” as well. Otherwise, it could be a really long sleepless week.

  2. Les says:

    I think her performance obviously rattled her, as it would anyone. But like you’ve said, it can and HAS happened to everyone. I cannot even fathom the amount of stress she must’ve felt at that moment.
    What I cannot understand is the abundance of “flawless”, “amazing” comments about her performance? It’s seems people feel obliged to either rip her to shreds or to completely ignore the reality of a rough performance. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t happy with it, but at the same time, it’s not the end of the world for this talented performer.

  3. Susan Dominguez says:

    Hey Molly ! Can I just start by sayin’ aren’t you supposed to be having a baby? Like, Now? LOL
    Anyway, for the record, I’ve had the honor of being on stage (in the Orch) backing Ms Menzel on 3 separate occasions. She is an amazing performer and musician. One thing that really stood out was her incredible ear, she hears everything – knowing immediately when things were not right with the charts. Now, lets talk about the Orchestra situation at the oscars – it seemed like she was getting way to much of something in her ear – balance of Orch with vocals was HORRIBLE! One can always speculate, and as professionals we are our own worst critics. Just a few days ago I was playing a showcase of Jerry Herman songs at the Shimmel Center, Pace Univ. and sharing the dressing room with 5 Broadway Divas, all amazing, and yes – all very human! I agree whole heartedly with your approach to move on – we all make mistakes – some cover better than others!
    That’s just part of experience and being able to block out the negative and find your zone.
    Yes, Idina has a lot going on both professionally and personally (she’s going through a separation from her husband), and as a performer, in the end it’s all about the product.
    That’s the business – just as it is for JT, and the deserved backlash he is experiencing.
    What I find most amazing is that NO one criticized PINK”S performance on SoTR!!!
    Is the bar higher for Idina because she’s “Broadway”? Now, if only we could hear HER sing SoTR.
    Hope to be hearing some good news coming from you soon.
    BTW, I’ll be performing string Quartets @San Diego Zoo on Sat.!!!

    • Molly Mahoney says:

      Love your insider insight Susan! And… yes – what the heck is up with baby thinking he can wait til his due date. UGH! He was supposed to learn from his bro and come early!

      I think what you said about it being about the “product” in the long run is what makes this biz so hard. Because WE are the product. It’s not something you can step away from. YOU have to be present because the product is YOU. And, yes… she has LOADS going on right now. It’s something for us all to learn from. We have to be able to separate our life stuff from our art, but also stay connected. Oh – balance!

      As for SoTR. My Facebook feed was filled with comments about Pink’s weird breathing choices. Some-where, O-ver, Be-hind etc. But, it seemed that most people chalked that up to a stylistic choice. To me she seemed totally connected emotionally and I wasn’t ever worried that she was going to crack. I just twitched every time she took a breath in the middle of a word. Ha! I think it is a different bar if not a higher one.

      San Diego on Sat? Amazing! So close. My cousin is getting married in SD on Sat and we aren’t going because we are hoping to be home with a new baby by then. If not, I’d better at least be in this hospital. Either way, we can’t chance being 2 hours away from the hospital. Let us know if you’ll be up a little closer to OC while you are on the West Coast. Miss and Love you!

  4. Molly Mahoney says:

    So – here’s proof that being relaxed and loving what you are doing also effects your voice. Love this rendition by Idina, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots

  5. […] past 2 days to have just heard about Idina’s NYE performance.  Some of you may remember the post I wrote after her Oscar performance which also caused a bit of a stir. In that post I spoke about how […]

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