Still, the actor and singer hadn’t seen the show from the audience in years until she accompanied her 12-year-old son, Walker, and his basketball team to a performance last month. Watching actor Talia Suskauer play Elphaba in the current staging, she said, was a “very emotional” experience.
“I had a real moment of pride, and really reflected on my life and what’s happened since then, how it changed my life,” Menzel told HuffPost at the launch of her women’s clothing line, Encore by Idina, last week. The show “was five years in the making, and it was a lesson in patience and belief in myself and the people around me. So I felt like I was finally able to take ownership of something that I was a part of, that changes people’s lives when they see it.”
Menzel is best known to younger fans as the voice of Queen Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen,” in which she offered a powerful message of self-acceptance through the chilling ballad “Let It Go.” Now, she’s hopeful women of all ages will feel similarly empowed by Encore, available through QVC. The “sleep to street” collection includes an array of jumpsuits, cardigans and jeans, among other items.
Like most theater artists, Menzel was unable to perform during much of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the unexpected downtime, she began sketching the concept for what’s now known as the Swing romper on a napkin.
“I said: ‘I want to make this for me,’ and then my family and others around me were saying: ‘You should expand upon this idea,’” she said. “I wanted to take the anxiety out of the getting-dressed process. I’m someone who’s fortunate enough to have people help me once in a while, but if I’m left to my own devices, I get really overwhelmed in my closet.”
“I wanted to find something I could wear to bed if I had to, wake up in the morning, get my kids to school and look decent next to the perfect mom who’s always got it together at 7 in the morning,” she added. “And later on, I wanted to be able to layer on something that works with it so I can meet my husband [Aaron Lohr] for drinks. It came out of necessity for myself.”
As for her brand’s thespian-minded title, Menzel said: “In my life, when people ask for an encore, it’s a great achievement. It means I’ve moved the audience, and they saw what I was doing and appreciated it. Even if you’re not a performer, we’re all on the crazy stage of life, balancing a million roles. And everyone deserves to feel seen and appreciated.”
Encore is just the start of what’s to come for Menzel in 2022. In September, she’ll make her first foray into children’s publishing with “Loud Mouse,” a picture book she co-wrote with her sister, Cara Mentzel. And this Thanksgiving, she’s set to reprise the role of Nancy Tremaine in Disney’s “Disenchanted,” the hotly anticipated sequel to 2007’s “Enchanted,” starring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey.
Though some fans were disappointed that Menzel didn’t get a musical number in the original film, that’s changed this time around.
“I have an incredible song that composers Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz wrote for me called ‘Love Power,’ and it’s a pretty awesome moment,” she said. “It’s a very traditional musical and it’s got an old-fashioned quality to it.”
Getting back into character meant having to wear costumes that are pretty much “the antithesis” of Encore.
“Expect to see me in a corset,” she quipped.