- Idina Kim Menzel
May 30, 1971 (age 49)
- Singer, Actor, Songwriter
- Taye Diggs
- Helene Mentzel, Stuart Mentzel
Idina Kim Menzel (born Mentzel on May 30, 1971) is an American actress, singer, and songwriter. She rose to prominence for her performance as Maureen Johnson in the Broadway musical Rent, a role which she reprised for the 2005 feature film adaptation. In 2004, she won the Tony Award for originating the role of Elphaba in the Broadway blockbuster Wicked. In 2014, she will be returning to Broadway in the musical If/Then. Menzel is also known for her portrayal of Shelby Corcoran on the Fox musical comedy-drama series, Glee.
Menzel was born in Queens, New York. Her mother, Helene, is a therapist, and her father, Stuart Mentzel, worked as a pajama salesman. She has a younger sister, Cara. Her family isJewish; her grandparents immigrated from Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Her family lived in New Jersey (East Brunswick, Somerset and Marlboro) from when she was in kindergarten to third grade, but she considers herself raised in Syosset, New York.
When Menzel was 15 years old, her parents divorced and she began working as a wedding and bar mitzvah singer, a job which she continued throughout her time at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Drama at New York University prior to being cast in Jonathan Larson's rock musical Rent. She changed the spelling of her surname to Menzel to better reflect the pronunciation the Mentzel family had adopted in America. She was friends with actor Adam Pascal before they worked together in Rent.
In 1995, Menzel auditioned for Rent, which became her first professional theater job and her Broadway debut. Rent opened off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop on January 26, 1996, but it moved to Broadway's Nederlander Theatre due to its popularity. For her performance as Maureen Johnson in the original cast of the musical, Menzel received a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical losing to Ann Duquesnay for Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. Her final performance in the musical was on July 1, 1997.
Menzel married actor Taye Diggs on January 11, 2003. They met in 1995 during the original production of Rent, in which Diggs portrayed the role of Benjamin Coffin III, the landlord. They have a son, Walker Nathaniel Diggs, born in 2009. They have a Yorkshire Terrier named Sammy Davis Jr. and two cats named Ella and Coltrane, also known as their "Jazz Cats" because they were named after jazz performers Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane.