Even if you’re not a Broadway super fan, you’ve heard of — or literally heard — Idina Menzel. The legendary performer has played some of the most iconic roles in the history of The Great White Way, and also starred in television shows and movies. She originated the role of Elphaba in “Wicked,” sang her heart out as Maureen Johnson in both the movie and stage versions of “Rent,” and voiced Elsa in the blockbuster Disney movie “Frozen.”
Now, with Broadway shut down and cities and entire countries returning to lockdown around the world due to the pandemic, the Tony Award-winning performer is helping share a little holiday cheer in the best way she knows how: singing. Teaming up with Airbnb, Menzel will host an Online Experience on Thursday, Dec. 17, where she’ll perform a holiday singalong concert with 100 lucky fans from around the world. At only $10 per household, funds from the exclusive concert will go directly to The Actor’s Fund to help performers struggling during this challenge time.
Bookings for the Holiday-themed Online Experience will go live on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 12 p.m. Eastern time, so set those alarms for a chance to snag your spot.
Travel + Leisure caught up with Menzel over the phone to get the inside scoop on what to expect during the spirited singalong, plus hear her thoughts on the resilience of the Broadway community, how she’s planning to celebrate the holiday season, and what’s in store for 2021.
T+L: Why did you decide to host your own Airbnb Online Experience?
Idina Menzel: “First of all, I’m a huge fan of Airbnb and I’m a fan of people connecting however they can over the holidays. I have this Christmas album I’m really proud of, so I love to sing the music from it. I think people need some kind of live performance, whether we consider Zoom being live or not. It’s my need and desire to perform and connect and bring joy and love, really, to a season that is filled with a lot of tumult and confusion — especially for kids.”
Why do you think music is so important, especially during this strange time?
“Well, first of all, you’re asking someone that, from the time she was five years old, has been singing and popping up from behind her couch as her grandfather introduced her as Miss Idina Menzel, welcome to the stage! Music obviously is everything that I am, has defined who I am, [and] has helped me find my true unique self. It helped me find my actual inner voice, as well as my singing voice, and helped me as a kid to really believe in who I was and to use music as a way of expressing myself. And children, more than ever, need different creative ways to express themselves — whether they’re musically inclined or if it’s some other art form.”
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Besides singing, how else are you planning on celebrating the holidays this year
“When I did the parade last year, they gave me this beautiful tree. I was always against a big tree, but it’s really gorgeous and it had lights already in it, and we’ll do ornaments. A nice Jewish girl collects many, many ornaments and they’re from all over the world. And whenever I tour, I gather something so that I can tell my son stories [about] where they came from.”
With Broadway still shut down, what message do you have for that community waiting for the day they can return to the stage?
“I have a lot of friends who perform on stage and behind the scenes in the theater community that are truly hurting. I think I can say to all the fans and to my fellow performers that we will be back — and we will be back better than ever. The one thing we can hold on to is that theater has always been a place where people can get together and share this experience and mirror the times that we’re in. And so what’s been hard about this is that we haven’t had theater to express that, but I feel like as soon as we can, as soon as it’s safe, there’ll be so much great art that will come out of that.”
What advice do you have for performers of all ages stuck at home right now?
“Through trauma and hard times come great creativity and art, and people should just write music, songs, choreograph, dance…whatever it is that they do and use it as a time to be creative and express how this time has affected us as people and as humanity.”
What’s your wish for 2021?
“Well, I’m turning 50 and I’m wishing that I actually will be able to meet my two college roommates for [my] 50th birthday, and travel somewhere that your magazine tells us to go!”
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Tanner Saunders is the Associate Digital Editor of Travel + Leisure. He’s probably out defying gravity. Find out on Instagram @Tizanner.
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