Idina Menzel and Lea Michele are two of the most celebrated stars of Broadway and television. They have both starred in hit musicals like “Wicked” and “Spring Awakening”, and they have both lent their voices to popular animated films like “Frozen” and “Trolls”. But are they related in real life?
The answer is no, they are not related by blood. However, they do share a strong resemblance and a professional connection. In fact, Menzel played Michele’s biological mother on the musical comedy-drama series “Glee”, which ran from 2009 to 2015.
How Idina Menzel Became Lea Michele’s Mom on ‘Glee’
Menzel was cast as Shelby Corcoran, a former Broadway star who gave up her daughter Rachel Berry (played by Michele) for adoption when she was young. She later became the coach of Vocal Adrenaline, a rival show choir of Rachel’s New Directions.
Menzel made her debut on the show in the first season, where she met Rachel for the first time and offered her a chance to know her better. She also had a brief romance with Rachel’s adoptive father, Will Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison).
Menzel returned to the show in the third season, where she adopted a baby girl named Beth, who was the biological daughter of Rachel’s ex-boyfriend Puck (played by Mark Salling) and her former friend Quinn (played by Dianna Agron). She also helped Rachel prepare for her audition for the Broadway revival of “Funny Girl”, which was Rachel’s dream role.
Menzel made her final appearance on the show in the fourth season, where she supported Rachel during her opening night of “Funny Girl” and reconciled with her.
Why Idina Menzel Was Hesitant to Play Lea Michele’s Mom on ‘Glee’
Although Menzel and Michele had a great chemistry on screen, Menzel admitted that playing Michele’s mom was not easy for her ego. In an interview with Stellar magazine, she revealed that she was only 15 years older than Michele when she got the role, and she felt like she should have been her older sister instead.
“You’re worried you’re not going to work again, and then people hire you to be someone’s mother when you probably should be their older sister,” she said. “It just wasn’t great for the ego. But I sucked it up and sucked myself into my clothes, and was excited to work with [creator] Ryan Murphy and be a part of that hit show.”
Menzel also said that she had just given birth to her son Walker with her ex-husband Taye Diggs when she got the call for “Glee”, so she was not in her best shape. “I couldn’t fit into any of the costumes,” she said. “I had my son Walker, and then three months later, I got the call and so I said ‘yes’.”
Menzel also joked that playing Michele’s mom made her feel old. In an interview with InStyle in 2021, she said: “She was 26, and I probably should’ve been her older sister. But I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about that.”
The Musical Moments That Idina Menzel and Lea Michele Shared on ‘Glee’
Despite the age gap and the ego issues, Menzel and Michele delivered some of the most memorable musical moments on “Glee”. They sang together several times, showcasing their powerful vocals and their emotional bond.
Some of their duets include:
- “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misérables”, where they expressed their hopes and regrets as mother and daughter.
- “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, where they tried to hide their feelings for each other as they met for coffee.
- “Somewhere” from “West Side Story”, where they sang about finding a place where they belong as they hugged each other.
- “Next to Me” by Emeli Sandé, where they sang about being there for each other as they faced their challenges.
Menzel and Michele also performed solo songs that were dedicated to each other or inspired by each other. For example:
- Menzel sang “Funny Girl” from “Funny Girl”, where she expressed her admiration for Rachel’s talent and personality.
- Michele sang “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl”, where she followed her mother’s footsteps and auditioned for the same role.
- Michele sang “Let It Go” from “Frozen”, where she embraced her new life in New York City after graduating from high school.
The Friendship That Idina Menzel and Lea Michele Have Off-Screen
Menzel and Michele have not only played mother and daughter on “Glee”, but they have also become good friends off-screen. They have supported each other’s careers and personal lives, and they have praised each other’s talents and achievements.
- Menzel attended the premiere of Michele’s film “New Year’s Eve” in 2011, where they posed for photos together.
- Michele congratulated Menzel on her performance in the film “Frozen” in 2013, where she voiced the iconic character of Elsa. She tweeted: “I’m so proud of my mama @idinamenzel and her amazing performance in Frozen! Go see it this weekend everyone!”
- Menzel sent flowers to Michele on her opening night of “Funny Girl” on Broadway in 2014, where she played the same role that her mother played on “Glee”. She wrote: “Break a leg tonight! You are the greatest star! Love, your proud mama.”
- Michele dedicated her performance of “Let It Go” on “Glee” to Menzel in 2015, where she sang the same song that her mother sang in “Frozen”. She tweeted: “This one’s for you @idinamenzel. Love you so much.”
- Menzel invited Michele to perform with her at her concert in Los Angeles in 2017, where they sang “For Good” from “Wicked”. They hugged each other and said: “We love each other so much.”
Idina Menzel and Lea Michele are not related by blood, but they have a special relationship that goes beyond their roles on “Glee”. They are both talented and successful performers who have inspired each other and their fans. They are also close friends who have shared many musical and emotional moments together. They are truly a mother-daughter duo that we can all admire and enjoy.