time to change the way we view music and the arts

Some Stars Never Stay “Frozen” in Place

Idina Menzel – “Lucky,” borderless triple threat within the arts and today’s pop-culture? (Cit. IdinaMenzel.com)

The idea of crossing genres and re-imagining has been somewhat of a steady occupant in my topics lately, what with artists trying so many new things to reinvigorate their fans/supporters lately. Not to mention new music is exploding left and right -particularly from bands who have not seen the light of a studio in lengths of time tending to span longer than a decade. (No Doubt‘s new album, “Push and Shove” anyone?)

Well, in letting these thoughts and stories settle between my ears, an announcement initially not music-centric quickly spurred my musings to one prominent artist example currently in such popular esteem, she can’t seem to go wrong with the audiences she wants to engage and win over. The big announcement in question?

Walt Disney Pictures has set their next feature animated film (digital, not the old-school 2D like their last ‘Princess movie’ in 2009, “The Princess and the Frog.”) for November 2013 and Idina Menzel has just been publicly revealed as one of the lead voice over roles. The newest addition to the Disney legacy will be based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, “The Snow Queen.” Playing the part of the title queen, this is Menzel’s first foray back with Disney since the mixed, animated/live-action film, Enchanted. (2007) Knowing how well received Disney tends to be, simply from its animation reputation, people are likely to give “The Snow Queen” a go, if for no other reason than to see how Disney’s magic pans out once again. If the queen has any singing to do, that will only cement further recognition for Menzel in the future, especially if the film does well.

Many of you out there are probably wondering why this post is carrying on about animated movies. Really the seed of contemplation here has to do with Menzel and her apparent ability to cross not only genres, but art mediums and age-groups with flawless and likable appeal.

Let’s talk about exposure, shall we?

Menzel certainly isn’t new to the arts or media circuits. A recognized and praised veteran of theater, going back to her major break as Maureen Johnson, in Jonathan Larson’s Broadway phenomenon, RENT, Menzel isn’t lacking A-list and top billing power. However, one has to wonder, once you get to top shelf star power, how one A-lister jumps on the roller coaster that eventually sees them off to productions across the entertainment board, over another. Personal career decisions are a factor to be sure; meaning, if you don’t want snowballing career transitions, then they won’t happen. (Pardon the unintentional pun!)

Say for a moment though, that you have two individuals like Menzel, both with the same amount of desire for professional variety. It’s one thing when you’re starting out, to perhaps meet someone who you share a talent with but may turn out to be a triple threat that exceeds you. It’s another when you already know two different people can and have both handled the major spotlight and know how to navigate the celebrity waters.

Menzel has connected with older and younger, single and family theater goers through RENT and Wicked, took a spin as a face on household primetime with Glee and most recently, has embarked on a widespread U.S. tour to support her newest solo singing endeavor, “Barefoot at the Symphony.” In short, it seems Menzel has hit her stride; always keeping music and musical projects close at hand. What though, makes this the year of Menzel and not, for example, the year of Kristen Chenoweth –Menzel’s equally renowned, Wicked co-star, who played Glinda, the Good Witch? If any of you are fans of the work Menzel has done, Chenoweth isn’t far behind her –quite literally. Glee took a liking to her and presented Chenoweth with a guest cast spot as well and Chenoweth also released a solo vocal album, called, “Some Lessons Learned.” (though not of theater standards like Menzel,) and did so last September, while “Barefoot” was just released this past March.

While not looking to get into a direct (possibly reader-catty) comparison contest between the former stage partners, the way lines between art forms can be swept away more for one than another intriguingly sheds some light on how we as a public take to not only celebrity talent, but their dictated exposure to us. Then again, just as tends to come with the expansion into star-studded territory, the ‘Year of Chenoweth’ may just be a shift that has yet to come. Regardless of their talent parallels and professional endeavors, visibility differences between Chenoweth and Menzel (or any other pair like them,) may come down to mere luck of the public pop-culture draw.

EDIT, 9/26/2013: Here is the newest official trailer for “Frozen.”

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