Tag Archives: Musical

Jew of the Week: Idina Menzel

Let it Go!

Idina Menzel in 'If/Then' (Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, www.joanmarcusphotography.com/)

Idina Menzel in ‘If/Then’ (Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)

Idina Kim Menzel (b. 1971) was born in New York to a Jewish family with grandparents from Russia and Eastern Europe. At 15, she began singing at weddings and bar mitzvahs, which later helped her get through Tisch School of Arts at New York University. Shortly after, she auditioned for the hit Broadway musical Rent, landing the role of Maureen Johnson, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She also starred in other hit shows like Hair and Aida, while releasing her first solo music album. Her greatest Broadway success began in 2003 when she started playing Elphaba in the musical Wicked, winning a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress. When the show opened in London, she became the city’s highest-paid female performer, earning $30,000 per week. Since 2008, she’s starred in Chess, Nero, and her latest, If/Then. The latter has now moved to Broadway, and Menzel has been nominated for another Tony for Best Leading Actress. Aside from her tremendous stage success, Menzel has also played roles in television and film, including a role on Glee. Most popularly, she lent the voice of Elsa in Disney’s Frozen, helping to make it the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and winning its theme song “Let it Go” an Academy Award. It also made Menzel the only Tony Award winner to ever hit the Billboard Top 10. Her most recent album, Holiday Wishes, hit the Billboard Top 10, as well. Menzel is heavily involved in charity work, and her ‘A BroaderWay Foundation’ helps disadvantaged youth make it in the arts through summer camps, scholarships, and workshops.

Words of the Week

…contrary to those who misunderstand or misrepresent this in terms of privilege, which smacks of chauvinism, this ‘chosenness’ [of the Jewish people] is primarily a matter of duty, and obligation to be a model people for the whole world to emulate; a people where form takes precedence over matter, the spiritual over the material, and the soul over the body, a people which was destined to be a “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6).
– Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Jew of the Week: David Copperfield

Most Successful Entertainer in History

David Copperfield

‘Magician of the Century’ David Copperfield

David Seth Kotkin was born in New Jersey to a Ukrainian-Jewish father and Israeli mother. At age 10 David started putting on magic shows in his neighbourhood. He was so amazing that by age 12 he was already admitted into the Society of American Magicians, the youngest person ever to do so. At 16, he taught magic at New York University. At 18, he was cast in the musical The Magic Man and there adopted his stage name ‘David Copperfield’ – taken from the Charles Dickens novel. At 21 he starred in his first TV special for ABC. Copperfield went on to make 19 more incredible TV specials, as well as several movies and Broadway performances, winning a total of 21 Emmy Awards during that time (with 38 nominations), and setting 11 Guinness World Records. He has sold over 40 million tickets to his shows, grossing more than $3 billion – making him the most successful solo entertainer of all time. This wealth allowed him to purchase a chain of islands in the Bahamas, known as the Islands of Copperfield Bay, where people can vacation with magical thrills (and where Google founder Sergey Brin got married). He has also built the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts. Though not open to the public, it contains the world’s largest collection of magical texts and artifacts. Since 1982, Copperfield has been running ‘Project Magic’, a charitable organization that helps disabled people regain dexterity through practicing fun magic techniques. The program quickly became popular and now runs in over 1100 hospitals in 30 countries around the world. Copperfield has been knighted by the French government, and the Library of Congress has titled him a ‘Living Legend’. His shows continue to amaze people worldwide.

Words of the Week

The frog said to King David: “I have a mitzvah greater than any of yours, for there is a bird that lives by the swamp and hungers, and I sacrifice my life to feed it.”
– Perek Shira