Idina Menzel Opens Up About Her Career Faltering After Finding Success In Rent And How Frozen Was A ‘Defining Moment’ In First Trailer For Disney+ Doc

These days, Idina Menzel’s name is synonymous with some of the most popular songs to grace the stage and screen. It all began with the smash-hit musical Rent, then she defied gravity as Elphaba in Wicked. Following an incredibly successful career on Broadway, she went on to play Elsa in Frozen and sang the incredibly popular song “Let It Go." However, while Menzel has been a part of some of the biggest moments in musical history, the path between these stops has been rocky, which she is revealing in her new documentary Idina Menzel: Which Way To The Stage?  for Disney+. 

Idina Menzel singing Take Me Or Leave Me in the Rent movie.

(Image credit: Sony)

Idina Menzel Opens Up About Challenges After The Success Of Rent

In 1996 Menzel made her Broadway debut in the groundbreaking musical Rent. She played Maureen Johnson in Jonathan Larson’s seminal rock musical, and blew audiences away with her pipes, especially when she sang “Take Me Or Leave Me.” While she earned a Tony nomination for her performance, and the musical went down as not only one of the greatest shows on the stage but also a classic musical movie, Menzel’s career faltered a bit after leaving the show. In the trailer for her new documentary, the actress said: 

When I got cast in Rent, I got an agent, a record deal. So you think it’s happening, but I sold no records, and then I got dropped. … I kinda had to start all over again.

That restart ended up involving the smash-hit musical Wicked. Menzel ended up originating the role of Elphaba in 2003, and won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical that year. Now, the musical is being turned into a movie starring Ariana Grande as Glinda and Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba. Both stars of the 2003 production, Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, reacted to the casting, and while the OG Elphaba is a little bummed she’s too old to play the part in the movie, she’s very excited for Erivo and Grande. 

After leaving Broadway, Menzel began to make a career in the movies, and while it took a little bit for her to find her footing, things started to go back up again when she was cast in a little movie called Frozen

Elsa in Frozen II

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Frozen Was A Defining Moment For Idina Menzel, And Here’s Why

Back in 2013, the world was rocked by Disney’s princess movie about sisters Anna and Elsa. Since then, it has become such a big hit, its climactic song “Let It Go” is one of the biggest Disney songs of all time. Menzel belts out the lyrics to “Let It Go” in the movie and plays Elsa. Her character helped define many little girls' childhoods as they ran around belting like the ice princess and waving their hands around trying to move the snow. 

Understandably, the movie changed Menzel’s life, as she said in the trailer: 

The success of Frozen, that was a defining moment. … It was about harnessing this power we all have in ourselves.

She’s also been open about how the movie has been one of the “great gifs” of her career. Following the success of the musical, Menzel and the rest of the cast created Frozen II and are still being asked if there will ever be a Frozen III. While the actress behind Elsa doesn’t know if there will be, she’s enthusiastic about the idea and hopes a threequel is in the works. 

Menzel’s career has flourished in multiple ways over the last few decades, and it’s still growing. As for what’s next, the actress will appear in the sequel to Enchanted, and she’ll be singing this time! 

You’ll be able to watch the singer’s documentary on December 9 and see her in Disenchanted on November 18 with a Disney+ subscription. In the meantime, you can watch Menzel belt her heart out in Frozen on Disney+ and Rent with an HBO Max subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.