Idina Menzel has done it before. Once. In New York City. On New Year’s Eve. In Times Square.
She sang outside in the cold. Freezing cold.
“Zero degrees,” she recalled of that night in 2014.
Well, weather records indicate that it was 27 degrees but she’s a Broadway star so we’ll let her exaggerate a bit.
Regardless of how chilly it was, that experience prepared Menzel for Friday evening in Minneapolis, when she will kick off the Super Bowl Live series on Nicollet Mall.
“I should fire somebody” for getting her this gig, she joked earlier this month from her home in Los Angeles.
The challenge of singing outdoors in the cold is an inability to hit high notes. She discovered that the hard way, performing her smash “Let It Go” on New Year’s Eve.
“I insisted on not lip syncing. A lot of artists do [lip sync on that New Year’s Eve show]. Now I understand why,” Menzel explained. “I tried to warm up and wear warm clothes. I insisted on singing it in its original key and I don’t know why I was so stubborn. And I just totally botched the last note of the song. So many people wrote [unflattering] things about it, and it hurt my feelings. I’m not going to do it again. I’ll sing live or I won’t sing it all. And here I am again singing the same song outside. I’m a glutton for punishment.”
“I’m not afraid of the cold,” she said earnestly. “I’m an East Coast person, actually.”
Menzel, 46, knows about voice issues from her days of singing eight shows a week on Broadway — she starred in “Wicked,” “If/Then” and the original cast of “Rent.”
“Your vocal cords are a muscle,” she said. “Like any athlete, you wouldn’t go out into the freezing cold without warming up. It shrinks when it gets tight. There’s only so much you can do. Some days you can go for it and everything works no matter what. And some days you don’t have it.”
Fake fur and ‘Frozen 2’
The native New Yorker hadn’t yet chosen her Minneapolis outfit when we talked. But she had an idea in mind for her stylist.
“Find me the biggest, fakest fur coat you can find that looks stylish and keeps me warm.”
Then she reiterated: “Make sure you got that right. I said fake fur.”
Actually, she said “fakest,” but we get the point.
“I’ll be fat but I’ll be warm,” she giggled.
One aspect of her outfit Menzel is certain about: She won’t go barefoot, as she is known to do at her concerts. In fact, her 2011 PBS special was titled “Barefoot at the Symphony.”
Menzel will not stick around to attend the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium. Her commitments revolve around the schedule of her 8-year-old son, Walker. Anyway, she sang the national anthem at the 2015 Super Bowl.
Her son is particular about engaging with Mom’s career. For instance, he didn’t want to see “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” last fall’s 21-minute animated film featuring Mom that is a bridge or promo to “Frozen 2.”
“My son is a little protective ... if that’s the word. Territorial. Possessive,” she explained. “ ‘Frozen’ is Mom’s job and it steals me away from him. And that’s how he relates to it right now.
“He’s starting to see how cool his mom is,” continued Menzel. “He’s just getting into music. He would like to come [to Minneapolis] to see Prince’s house.”
Menzel has had a varied and successful career in different arenas. Not only did she win a Tony for playing Elphaba in “Wicked,” but she has recorded six albums under her own name, appeared in various TV programs including “Glee” and a 2017 remake of the movie “Beaches” and, of course, sang the 2014 Oscar- and Grammy-winning “Let It Go” for the animated sensation “Frozen.”
But it seems all that anyone wants to talk to her about these days is “Frozen 2,” the sequel due in late 2019. She will reprise her role of Elsa.
“I just started working on it a couple months ago,” she said. “They’re still piecing the story together and refining it. There’s not too much I can reveal about it other than I think it’s pretty special. We’re not doing it just to do a sequel. They’re putting their heart and soul into it. They’re deepening the characters, and I’m excited about that.
“We haven’t recorded any of the music yet. Usually they get the script in order and they start filling in with the songs. It’s sort of a chicken-and-egg kind of thing. The song takes the place of a scene and they turn down the dialogue or vice versa. It’s a fascinating process.”
So don’t expect Menzel to let go of any “Frozen 2” nuggets while she gets frozen on Nicollet Mall.