Menzel is known to some as the green-skinned Elphaba from Wicked. Other fans go farther back and think of her as Maureen from Rent, while her youngest fans recognize her as the voice of magical Elsa in the Disney movie Frozen. When we caught up with the Tony-winning performer by phone recently, she told us she's bringing it all when she makes her return stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall on May 25. (Her last visit was in 2015.) "I always find it challenging to create new shows,'' she said. "I want to strike a balance, so it runs the gamut. There's going to be emotional songs and some real pop and rock stuff too. Oh, and I play the drums at times, too,'' she said. Menzel, whose solo albums include Still I Can't Be Still, Here, I Stand, and idina, is also the co-founder of A BroaderWay Foundation, focused on girls in underserved communities as an outlet for self-expression and creativity through arts-centered programs.
What's on your nightstand?
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I'm about 200 pages in. It's a beautiful book. It's heartbreaking, but I'm loving it. My next book will be Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I know the author was one of Obama's favorites, so I wanted to read it.
You have a number of young fans, middle and high schoolers. What books or writers would you recommend for them?
I would say read what they love and what moves them. Maybe that would be an autobiography, maybe a great woman who inspires you. One like that for me is Joni Mitchell. I have a book with all her lyrics. It's a collection of beautiful poetry. So, it should be what makes you happy, and it's about having fun. When I look back, growing up, reading felt like a chore for a long time. It shouldn't be. It's about what moves you and what interests you. Also, look at different things because you still are not sure who you are. It's all about the process. Find books that help you find your own voice.
Contact Piper Castillo at email@example.com. Follow @Florida_PBJC.