Idina Menzel is set to perform at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre

Idina Menzel isn’t necessarily a household name, but you’ve no doubt heard her voice or seen her on the big screen. The Tony Award-winning actress and singer voiced Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen,” in which she sang the film’s Oscar-winning song “Let It Go.” She’s also reached stardom on Broadway as Elphaba, the witch in “Wicked,” and Maureen in the Pulitzer Prize-winning show “Rent.” 
Menzel, who released her fifth solo album, “Idina,” last fall, will make her way to the St. Augustine Amphitheatre at 7:30 p.m. tonight for an eclectic performance of tunes from her more than 20-year career. 
Compass caught up with Menzel to chat about growing up in Queens, icons who have influenced her and “Frozen 2.” Here’s part of that conversation. 


Compass: Tell me a bit about growing up in Queens. Was self-expression encouraged in your family?
Idina Menzel: Oh, yeah. Of course. Probably to my mother’s dismay because she was always saying “Speak your feelings and express yourself.” And then my sister and I would really express ourselves, and she would be like “Woah! Hold it back.” Especially when we were teenagers. My mom’s a therapist now, and she’s always been about feelings and she’s always encouraged my sister and myself to be our best selves and to use our voices in whatever capacity that meant. 

Compass: Did you go into the city a lot to see shows?
I.M.: Uh-huh. They took us in a lot. We saw “Peter Pan” with Sandy Duncan, the original “Annie” and “Dreamgirls,” which pretty much changed my life. The overture, the lights going down and the goose-bump moments of hearing the music begin, the curtains opening and people just pouring their hearts out on a live stage just validated everything that I felt in myself and what I wanted to do. And I stayed on that path ever since I was a little girl. 

Compass: Who are some singers and actors that have influenced you over the years?
I.M.: Well, I always say that in my early years, definitely Barbara Streisand. One of the first albums I ever owned was “A Star Is Born” with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, and I always loved that idea of somebody being thrown out onto the stage and having to win over the audience. That feeling of her standing up there and feeling so vulnerable and then, the second she opens her mouth, it gets quieter and quieter and she just reels them all in with her beauty and talent. That always just sent chills down my spine. Then, as I got older, I started singing at weddings and bar mitzvahs to make money and I had to learn all kinds of music, so I started listening to Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan. I learned a lot of jazz tunes, so I started listening to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Then in college, I got really into Joni Mitchell and other songwriters. It’s kind of been a wide variety of talent that has helped me straddle many different mediums and styles. 

Compass: What will the format be like for your St. Augustine show?
I.M.: We have a pretty large band — about nine pieces. I have three amazing women that have been added to the group. They all play instruments — violin, cello, acoustic guitar — and they all sing. I also have my regular guys that I’ve been playing with for years, and everybody’s really bonded. We just came back from Japan, and we’re all in a nice groove together. I always just try and do a show that’s intimate and authentic. No matter the size of the venue, I feel that it’s so important to try and bring everybody in as though it’s my living room and tell a story through music. I use the songs to chronicle my life [and] memories that have really inspired me. There are some songs that you would expect to hear and then some covers that maybe you wouldn’t. It’s an eclectic show. 

Compass: The release date for “Frozen 2” was just announced for Nov. 27, 2019. Have you recorded anything yet for the film? What stage is it in?
I.M.: I think they’ve been spending most of the time on the story. The process for an animated film is crazy and time consuming. They have to do so much artwork, story-boarding and writing the music before we ever set foot in there. They’ve been pretty tight-lipped about the story, but I think we’re going to get in there this summer. 

Idina Menzel will perform at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 1340C State Road A1A South. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $94 to $132 for seated pit, $74 to $94 for Level 100 and $54 to $74 for Level 200.