Idina Menzel recalls Broadway’s tear-filled return after September 11, 2001


Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of 2,977 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The attacks left New York City at a standstill for weeks — but just 48 hours after the horrors in Lower Manhattan, all Broadway theaters were re-opened. New York City’s then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani saw the Great White Way’s return as a key to the city’s recovery. 

One of the performers that night was Tony winner Idina Menzel, then a struggling actress.

“I was going into Aida at the time, and…I was replacing Taylor Dayne … I was sort of at a low point in my career, and I was really excited about it,” she recalls to ABC Audio. “And then the day I was supposed to get on stage was 9/11.”

“When we finally did come back. I remember my dad was in the audience, and it was quarter filled, people were just not in the mood or weirded out or scared to be in a public space together,” she adds. “And it…felt, I remember, awkward to be up there. Is it OK to be singing and celebrating and making the attention about ourselves? But yes, it’s good for people because they…needed to heal.”

“I remember we all sang ‘America the Beautiful’ at the curtain call, and I remember my dad was with my husband at the time, he just started bawling, and he’s not a very emotional man. And my…ex-husband Taye [Diggs], he didn’t know what to do with my father,” Idina recalls, laughing.

She adds, “So…I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of those kinds of moments and to provide some kind of sanctuary when we’re all going through things.”

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