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It’s taken her 18 years, but Idina Menzel has finally cracked the top 10 with “Let It Go,” her soaring ballad from Frozen. The singer-actress — featured on the cover of the March 29 issue of Billboard — talks about her long road to stardom, from Rent to a costly break from theater in pursuit of a pop career to her recent ascension as a household name, thanks to the massive success of Frozen and a primetime slip by John Travolta.
Check back Monday to read the full cover story. Until then, here are five things we learned about the artist.
“Adele Dazeem” got flowers and a note. “That threw me for a minute, but then I just got back on track and reminded myself of where I was,” says Menzel of Travolta’s now-infamous flubbing of her name at this year’s Oscars. “He was really gracious and sent this gorgeous email, and we’re buddies, and it’s all cool.” He also sent flowers, and thanks to the Grease actor’s error, she’s a household name — twice over. “Please. I mean, I’ve only benefited from it.”
Her new Broadway show? Not for kids. If/Then, which opens March 30, is about a woman in her 40s and features an unplanned pregnancy as well as a song called “What the F—,” about trying to have sex with three guys in one night.
‘Let It Go’ isn’t your typical pop hit. Radio hasn’t driven the success of “Let It Go,” which has charted based largely on sales and streams and is only just now starting to make progress at adult contemporary and mainstream top 40 radio. “I’m just excited to see it break some rules,” she says.
Her journey to ‘Frozen’ began with a no. Menzel initially tried out for Disney’s 2010 animated feature Tangled. That didn’t work out, but the casting director recorded her audition singing The Beatles’ “Blackbird” on her phone, which led Menzel to come in for early readings of Frozen.
She used to sing at weddings and bar mitzvahs. And right after graduating from New York University, Menzel scored her role in Rent after she “sang the hell out of ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ ” for the show’s director, Michael Greif.
This article first appeared on Billboard.com. Return to Billboard.com on Monday morning for the full cover story, plus an exclusive behind-the-scenes video and interview.
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