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Idina Menzel: Where to on stage? is a Disney+ Documentary following the performer on her 2018 tour with Josh Groban ending at Madison Square Garden (her lifelong dream). Throughout this journey, Menzel reflects on the ups and downs of her career and shares insights into her personal life, including the struggles she faces as an actress and as a mother. The documentary is a compelling mix of concert videos, speaker testimonies and archive footage.

opening shot: Idina Menzel sings “Last Night I Had a Dream, I Found Me Playing at Madison Square Garden” to the tune of “Over the Moon” from Jonathan Larson’s hit musical Rent accompanied by her band. She continues to riff off new lyrics to the familiar beat as the screen fades to black to reveal a title card, “Idina Menzel,” written in a glittering gold font.

The essentials: It’s 2018 in New York City and Menzel is preparing to embark on a tour with Josh Groban that will take her to 17 different cities before finishing at her “dream” venue, the infamous Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile, she juggles being a mindful mom to her son Walker and undergoing IVF treatments in hopes of conceiving a child with her now-husband Aaron Lohr.

As the countdown to the grand performance begins, the documentary jumps between eras, spanning Menzel’s entire career, from her younger years as a wedding and bar mitzvah singer to her Broadway debut in 1996 Rent and her rise to Disney fame Frozen. Menzel reflects on these monumental moments and how they impacted her life, while also giving viewers a glimpse into her private life. She travels to her hometown of Long Island, NY, and rummages through her old mementos—including a box of her old songwriting that she playfully toasts.

Though the documentary is a joyous celebration of her career, Menzel refuses to shy away from the tougher moments in her life. She is open about the isolation she felt after her parents’ divorce, resentment toward them for not allowing her to perform professionally as a child, and the resistance she felt from the industry early in her career. Those memories are woven into her touring experience and are often set as a backdrop to her live performances, which feature original songs and fan-favorite hits from her musical theater work, including a tune from “No Day But Today.” Rent“Do you want to build a snowman?” Frozenand Defying Gravity Evil.

Idina Menzel on her way to the stage
Photo: Disney+

Our opinion: Menzel’s documentary (which takes its name from its opening line in Rent) is a worthy tribute to her fame. The film emphasizes the appreciation she has for her craft and the joys it brings her. Many recent celebrity documentaries have focused on performers and their desperation to be seen as more than that, but Menzel takes her profession neither for granted nor as an insult. In fact, she makes it clear that she edited them entire Living to get where she is now, especially after her breakthrough role in Rent and the ephemeral nature of what she believed to be her “big break.”

This is made even clearer in a heartbreaking moment in the documentary where she was denied entry to her Los Angeles venue because she wasn’t on “the list.” After declaring that she is to perform, the guard dismisses her as “Josh Groban’s wife,” causing her to burst into tears backstage. Elsewhere, she thanks John Travolta for screwing up her name at the Oscars (“Adele Dazeem‘) as coverage afterwards guaranteed she would be a household name by now.

These scenes not only show Menzel’s humbleness despite her career achievements and worldwide acclaim, but also emphasize the importance of performers having a personal identity that isn’t just a performer. Throughout the documentary, Menzel brings in that she’s a mother, a wife, and so much more, and she appreciates all of those parts of her life. It’s that confidence and fearlessness that allows her to dominate the stage in her sparkling ’80s-style jumpsuit and intense shoulder pads, and that wisdom that makes it clear that she has something to say.

(That’s not to say the film — or maybe Disney — doesn’t have an agenda of its own Frozen Territory, Disney threw in a heartwarming montage that lasts significantly longer than the others.)

Idina Menzel
Photo: Disney+

Menzel had a tour stop in Pittsburgh shortly after the synagogue shooting that killed 11 people. She acknowledged the tragedy during her “No Day But Today” tune (which includes the lyrics “Give in to Love or Live in Fear”). In an off-comment she says: “As artists we are always a channel for what’s going on in our lives, what we’re feeling emotionally and what’s going on in the world. Our show in Pittsburgh happened just a few days after the synagogue shooting, so I had to take credit for that,” he added, adding that songs “can take on new meanings,” which proves a testament to the artists’ work, in this case Larson, would prove.

As she introduces the song to the crowd, she explains, “This show was all about tolerance, it was about love. It was about community. If we could use a song tonight while I sit here in this beautiful town, a Jewish girl from Long Island…”

She continues: “I’ve been thinking about how we light candles in the Jewish community. prefer light to darkness. Choosing love over bigotry.” Given the ongoing spate of anti-Semitism facing the Jewish community, some instigated by Hollywood greats, this was an extremely powerful moment to feature in the documentary.

Memorable dialogue: Menzel shadows the “LA industry” in one scene as he prepares to perform around town. She says, “I guess LA is always an awkward show because LA industry people don’t know how to relax and have a good time.”

gender and skin: Nothing here, but at one point Menzel jokes into the camera that she’s looking forward to going back to her husband’s house so she can “get something.”

farewell shot: Bring up the tears! The documentary ends with Menzel surprising a high school class performing a production of Rent. She takes the time to sit down with the teens (who are rightfully fangirls) to answer any questions they have about the musical and the career. This culminates in Menzel reflecting on the lessons she learned on tour and a montage performing her original song, Life is Good.

Our appeal: Stream it. Idina Menzel: Where to on stage? has something for everyone: lifelong fans, casual fans, and people who may only know them from Travolta’s naming error. Her story packs a lot of heart and Menzel shares it with an intimacy and authenticity that is rarely found. And who knows, you might find a new song or two to fall in love with.

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