Idina Menzel got her start on Broadway, and the singer is making her grand return to the stage in the new musical Redwood.
Variety reports Menzel is heading to La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California, to debut the new production, which she has reportedly been working on for the past 20 years.
The musical was initially inspired by environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill, a prominent figure in the late ’90s who lobbied against loggers cutting down redwood trees. Menzel will star as a woman named Jesse, presumably inspired by Hill.
The singer adds the musical’s plot now includes experiences she and director Tina Landau — who is behind Broadway’s The SpongeBob Musical — have had since they first began working on the production.
“I subscribe to this feeling very often in my life of wanting to just escape,” Menzel said. “I’m more of a recluse than people think I am … I definitely grapple with that a lot in my life, just like, ‘Can I just put it all down and leave and do something different?'”
She said her partnership with Landau challenged her to explore elements that are both new and intimidating to her. “It’s opening my vernacular and forcing me to find new colors and places in my voice that I think are just fun,” she said of the forthcoming musical, “and have different emotional connections for me to the character and hopefully open up different chakras, if you will, for other people when they’re listening.”
While a premiere date for Redwood has not been announced, the musical will reportedly take its bow as the production closing out La Jolla’s 2023-24 season.
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