Tony winner Idina Menzel (Rent, Wicked, Frozen) will return to the stage in the new musical Redwood, which will make its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse after nearly two decades of development. The show has been slated as the final production of the regional theatre's 2023-2024 season, according to Variety.
Menzel will play Jesse, a woman who travels cross-country to Northern California's redwood forests. There, she finds "unexpected connections and healing." Redwood's book writer Tina Landau (The SpongeBob Musical) will direct the musical.
Influenced by Menzel and Landau's own experiences, Menzel told Variety, “I subscribe to this feeling very often in my life of wanting to just escape. 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?’”
Redwood features music by Kate Diaz and lyrics by Diaz and Landau.
Menzel also said in the interview, “What’s so exciting working with Tina is that she definitely knows how—and she’s guiding Kate in this as well—to write for me, but also how to challenge me and to put me in places that are not formulaic or not my typical go-to. It’s opening my vernacular and forcing me to find new colors and places in my voice that I think are just fun, 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.”
The musical rounds out the previously announced season, which features the world premieres of Anna Deavere Smith's Love All; Is It Thursday Yet? from Jenn Freeman and Sonya Tayeh; Joe Iconis and Gregory S. Moss' The Untitled Unauthorized Hunter S. Thompson Musical; Lisa Sanaye Dring's SUMO; and Tony winner Joe DiPietro's Babbitt starring Matthew Broderick.
Disney+ recently released a documentary about the Broadway favorite titled Which Way to the Stage? in which Menzel opens up about her career, being a mother, and her artistic happy place.