Idina Menzel did not need John Travolta to become famous. She had already done that all on her own in her Broadway performances in the musical Wicked years ago.
But the New York Theatrical Community, despite its international reputation, and the endless wave of tourists who come to the Big Apple to see a Broadway show, is still nevertheless limited in its power to reach out and impact the consciousness of the country and the world. Especially when compared to a hit motion picture or television show. These cultural vehicles, by their very nature, get a far wider audience than live Theater in a major city.
So while Ms. Menzel did not exactly need the help, the widespread attention which Mr. Travolta created on the last Academy Awards by mispronouncing her name definitely did not hurt. The resulting snowball effect, combined with the tremendous success of both Disney’s animated film Frozen, and its hit song, Let It Go, sung by Ms. Menzel, have now guaranteed that when she appears on the Tonys this weekend, she will be one of the major attractions which will increase the viewership of this awards show.
It has been a meteoric rise for Idina Menzel, which did not hurt her appearance in a new Broadway show this past season. No doubt it has benefited from the same magic which has taken both the movie Frozen, and the song Let It Go, to historic heights of success.
But when we get down to the main issue in all of this, everyone really knows that all this excitement has little to do with John Travolta’s well timed flub, or the power of social media to take this occasion and turn it into a wave of support and applause for Idina Menzel. The real magic in all these developments has always been, of course, Ms. Menzel’s amazing talent and remarkable voice.
There is no greater proof of this than Idina Menzel’s appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, soon after the Academy Awards. In that show, she appeared in one of Jimmy Fallon’s great contributions to American culture. The segment where singers perform in a small room, with Mr. Fallon and the Tonight Show orchestra accompanying the singer while playing children’s instruments.
This writer does not refer to this segment with any attempt at humor or mockery when he writes that it is a great contribution to American culture. It is meant with great sincerity. There is no greater test for any singer’s voice and skill than to appear on national television with only their voice, and some minimal backup from children’s instruments. Jimmy Fallon has not created some cute little skit for people to chuckle. He has provided an intimate setting for any singer to test themselves in front of the American public, and see if their voice can really create the magic to move people.
American Idol, the Voice, and all those other shows have nothing over The Tonight Show’s Singing with Children’s Instruments Segment.
The proof is obvious in the youtube clips of such singers as Mariah Carey, who have appeared in the little room, or studio, and basically put their voice and their singing artistry out there for the public to see and hear. The magic is either there to move people, or not.
It was in this setting that Idina Menzel appeared after the Academy Awards, where instead of having the backup of a full orchestra, there were only children’s instruments. Anyone can go onto Youtube and click on the clip of this performance. They will see that, as stated earlier in this article, the excitement and sensation which has swirled around Idina Menzel lately really has to do with her own incredible gifts. No greater proof of this can exist except to listen to the clip, see how Jimmy Fallon and his musicians become so involved in the song because of Idina Menzel’s energy, and look at her with awe as her voice soars.
So as the number of hits on this particular youtube clip approaches 12 Million, and the world prepares to see and hear Idina Menzel soar to new heights this weekend on the Tony Awards, let us thank both her and Mr. Fallon for their great contributions to this nation’s cultural life.