In addition to getting to attend Idina Menzel’s Blogger Tweetup, we also got the chance to talk to her over the phone as she was busy promoting her new concert tour! We have been huge fans of Idina Menzel since long before Glee was on the air, so it was an amazing opportunity getting to speak with the Broadway legend. You definitely know her as Shelby Corcoran, Rachel Berry’s mother on Glee, but you may also know her from the Original Broadway Casts of Rent and Wicked. We chatted with her about being on Glee, her upcoming concert tour, being a mother and much more! If you’re a fan of Idina’s, you can go to IdinaMenzel.com/tours to see when she’ll be in your area. Enjoy the interview!
We at GleeFan.com have a few questions for you and also some that we’ve collected from Glee fans through Twitter and the like. To start if off, can you tell us about your upcoming concert tour? You’re about to be in DC with the National Symphony Orchestra, so what is that like?
I actually was there this past summer with Marvin Hamlisch at the Wolf Trap, so we hit it off, Marvin and I. He’s going to be conducting, and we also performed together at the White House for the president the same weekend. All these dates are myself with a symphony orchestra and it’s different for me then when I got out and promote my album with this my 5 or 6 piece rock band and I’m really enjoying be up there in front of these thrilling musicians and hearing the music taken onto a whole other level.
We understand that you’ll be singing two songs that you sang on Glee. Are you excited for that?
Yeah, I had a great time on Glee, and I just had a baby when I was filming those episodes and a couple months later, it was really fun for me to get back to work and be on such a groundbreaking hit show and to be singing and working with theater people. It was a really nice way of getting back into the swing of things after being pregnant and not doing much else professionally. So yeah, I’ve taken a couple of the songs and orchestrated them in this context, and they seem to go over really well and they sound beautiful. I’m looking forward to doing it!
Could you tell us a little bit about how you got the role of Shelby Corcoran on Glee?
It was sort of a little bit of an enigma. My husband and I were huge fans and we’d Tivo it, so I told my manager that Id’ love to be on the show if it ever came up. My manager put it out there in the universe, and then I don’t know if it was the fans that made a connection between Lea and myself or Ryan Murphy, but it all worked out. That’s all I know.
Yeah, with the fans, we were all convinced that you would be the perfect person to bring on for the role of Rachel’s mom. There was a lot of early discussion just from the fans about how you should be on the show. Did you see any of this or think that it would actually happen?
I hate to sound like it wasn’t important to me, but ever since I’ve become a mother, things have changed. I’ve really been focused on diapers, late nights and my husband with the baby, and that’s kind of the beautiful thing about having children. It gives you a new perspective, and so I wasn’t hanging around waiting. It just came up and it was a terrific opportunity, and probably there are more wonderful things happening for me now since I had the baby because I’m not sitting around desperately waiting. I have a real purpose in my life, and that seems to open more doors. Does that make sense?
Yeah. One of the questions that we had was if being a mom had affected your career.
Well, I don’t know yet. I’ll have to look back in a couple of years to say. I know that it has affected me as a human being. I know that I feel more whole as a woman and what I can accomplish and who I am. I just feel like I have more purpose in this life than just being self-absorbed and worrying about the next audition or job. It just puts everything into perspective. Building a family with my husband and all that stuff has become really important, and what seems to be happening is that things are coming up when I’m not expecting them. The time in my life when I’d be so worried about what the next job was going to be or when the money would be coming in, those were the times when less opportunity came about. It’s the time when you’re most free and open that the best things seem to happen.
Do you think that being a mom in real life helped you play the character of Shelby or do you think that it made it harder for you since she had chosen to give up her kid?
That was a hard one for me to reconcile, Shelby’s actions, because for me, my daughter is my daughter. It doesn’t matter how old she is or what I’ve missed in her life. If you have the opportunity to reconcile with your daughter, I would do it. Whether or not I wanted a baby would have had nothing to do with it. It’s something that I as myself, Idina, never would have thought of doing, but as an actor you have to find a way of getting it to make sense to you, and hopefully we’ll find out more about that.
So do you think that you’ll be coming back later this season or possibly the next?
Yeah, I’m not sure. I hope so! We’ve talked about it, and we’ll see what happens, but I really hope so.
Other than Glee, do you have any upcoming projects? I understand that you’re working on another album…
I just started getting back in the studio because I’ve really been inspired by these concerts that I’ve been doing. I sort of revisiting some of the old standards and getting to arrange them with these symphonies, so I’m going to focus on that sound in the studio even with the more original material as well. I’m always developing something theatrically, which is very important to me – that I do something original, and those things take years to come to fruition, but they’re the most rewarding and they seem to work the best for me. I feel like I want to help nurture those composers and writers that are doing originals and be a part of that experience.
Now we have a few questions collected from the Glee fans, who are obviously your fans as well. One we got a few times was: what is your most memorable fan interaction – either touching or crazy.
Oh my gosh. I thought of touching first because just a couple weeks ago, I was in Cincinnati and I met a young girl after the show who was blind. She was with her grandfather and he said that when she was born, she had a tumor on her optic nerve. They didn’t give her much time to live, and here she is standing before my, 16 years old, inspired by the music. That was just too much for me to handle, just being in front of her, and we connected, so I’ve been in touch with her since. That was pretty powerful.
Wow, that’s amazing. Another question I got was if you’re going to have an international tour. Of course everyone’s asking, “Will you come to [whatever country they’re from]?”
Yeah, we’re waiting for some offers. We’re hoping to get to Europe and to Canada for sure. I’d love to go to Asia and I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people from Argentina and Brazil that want me to come. I’m not sure if that’s Wicked or what’s been down there that they know me from.
Yeah, we had a lot of people asking questions from South America. I think I remember a couple of them were from Venezuela as well.
So, thinking back to when you were younger, did you always know that you wanted to be a professional singer or on Broadway?
Yeah, I always wanted to be a singer. As long as I can remember, that’s what I’ve wanted and what I’ve loved. My aspirations changed colors a little bit here and there as I got older, as to whether it was Broadway or a songwriter and rock star, but I always wanted to perform.
Here’s a fun one: have you ever Googled yourself or looked yourself up on YouTube?
Yes, I have, but it’s usually not a very fun experience for me.
Yeah, because no matter how many wonderful things you do, there’s always someone there to put you in your place. So I try not to do that anymore.
Yeah, as soon as you offer people anonymity, the claws come out.
Exactly. It can be a very evil place, the internet…
Last fan question, if you could sing a duet with anyone in the world, who would it be and what song would you sing?
Oh no, this will take me a sec… It would be Bono and the song would be… Oh, I know, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
Well, thank you so much for talking to us!
Thank you! I really appreciate the support!
We can’t wait to hear more from you and hopefully see you on Glee again soon!
We cannot thank Idina enough for taking the time to talk to us, and we hope you enjoyed the interview! If you get the chance, see Idina Menzel Live! in concert at a city near you!