Idina Menzel has been gracing the stage and screen for over three decades now, and through her successes and trials, she maintains a complexity that doesn’t relegate her to just an actor.
The new documentary, she also produced, “Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage” is a rather vulnerable look at how Menzel herself has maneuvered through living life in the spotlight and outside of it.
“I set out to make this because I wanted to chronicle a dream of mine coming true,” she told us via a video interview. She continued, “In order for me to do that and not let it pass me by, I knew I needed to open myself up to the whole story, and not just parts of it.”
The documentary culminates in Menzel’s dream of playing a show at Madison Square Garden in New York City, but the journey to that point meant documenting her life before she became the celebrity she is now.
With the help of family footage, pictures, and interviews, viewers of the doc will be treated to some behind-the-scenes and making-of Menzel’s career as a young child loving to be in school plays and concerts, to nabbing her role in Disney Animation’s “Frozen” that took her career to the next level, to balancing motherhood while still auditioning for roles today.
Over the course of years in making the documentary, it really became a reminder to Menzel herself of why she does what she does in all aspects of her life. “It was a little bit of a lesson for me to watch this retrospective, especially for a woman who believed in herself as a child and, now in her fifties, often doubts herself,” Menzel said.
Menzel admitted that she wanted to share the difficulties in being this multi-hyphenate person because “that is part of the journey as you dream,” alluding to the struggles of not only being able to sing iconic songs like ‘Let It Go’ perfectly because of what people expect of her, but what it means to take care of her son and make sure he’s protected and loved.
“The most important thing about the arts is empathy and learning to walk in other people’s footsteps,” Menzel said. “So whether it’s sharing about my experience doing IVF (In Vetro Fertilization) or leaving a show rehearsal on time to get to my son’s basketball game, it’s important that people see that part about my life, too.”
Altogether, Menzel’s documentary does a great job at not only sharing the struggles and joys of living her unique life, but how much she needs to be reminded that her choices in life were worth it.
“In a lot of ways after seeing the finished film, I think I needed this as much as I wanted other people to be encouraged by this as well,” Menzel said.