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'Wicked' star Idina Menzel gleeful over upcoming gig Saturday at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Broadway icon Idina Menzel has a wicked streak.

Last April, her husband, singer-actor Taye Diggs, performed in Prelude, the 250-seat restaurant at Adrienne Arsht Center. Saturday night, Menzel sings at the Arsht Center’s 2,400-seat Knight Concert Hall.

“I always have to outdo him,” she says, gleefully.

Menzel, 40, has had a charmed career: originating the role of Maureen in Rent (1996); a 2004 Best Actress Tony for the musical Wicked (Broadway’s original bad witch Elphaba); a recurring role in the current hit TV series Glee.

A onetime bar mitzvah singer from Syosset, N.Y., Menzel performs in concert at the Arsht with the Miami Symphonic Studio Orchestra. It’s the final show in an 18-month tour that two weeks ago was recorded in Toronto for a PBS special.

“It feels like the culmination of a stage of my career in which I really learned a lot,” Menzel says. “I love standing in front of these dynamic orchestras. . . . I’m a woman with many hats. I like it that way. It balances me out as an artist. The grind of eight shows a week, a play or musical, that’s where my heart is. It keeps me fresh.”

Menzel figures she played about 1,000 performances of Wicked, belting her trademark Act 1 closer, Defying Gravity. She promises to sing it in Miami. “When I’m in concert, it would be pretty crappy if I didn’t.”

After the tour ends, she’ll spend time in Los Angeles with Diggs and their 2-year-old son, Walker. Later, she’ll head back to New York for development of a new stage project.

Menzel says it makes no difference to her whether she’s singing in concert or as a character in a book musical.

“Whatever nerves I have will be the same for both,” she says.

Despite thousands of acclaimed live performances on Broadway and across the United States, it’s Glee that has made Menzel’s face famous for millions of TV viewers.

“I got recognized in this coffee shop twice in Pasadena. That never used to happen,” says Menzel, who plays former Vocal Adrenaline coach Shelby Corcoran. “They don’t say I loved you in Glee, but I loved you in Rent or Wicked. Ever since Glee, I get more compliments about other jobs.”

IF YOU GO

Idina Menzel appears 8 p.m. Saturday at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall. Tickets range from $50 to $140; many sections sold out. www.arshtcenter.org.

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love her.

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