Menzel… the new Midler?

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Nia Long, left, and Wicked star Idina Menzel in the remake of Beaches, headed for DStv’s  Lifetime (channel 131) at 8pm on April 29.

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BY BILLY SUTER

THE dark-haired Idina Menzel, who rose to fame as the green witch Elphaba in the stage musical Wicked, and who also appeared in TV’s Glee and sang Let It Go in the animated hit, Frozen, fills the old Bette Midler role of Cee Cee Bloom, a popular recording artist, in a TV remake of the 1988 hit film, Beaches.

Nia Long, of the hit TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – and seen in the films Boyz N the Hood, Boiler Room, Big Momma’s House and Soul Food – fills the old Barbara Hershey role, playing Cee Cee’s lifelong pal, Hillary, a woman whose more simple life of motherhood and domesticity is secretly envied by the recording star.

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Barbara Hershey as Hillary, left, and Bette Midler as Cee Cee Bloom, in the 1998 version of  Beaches.

America’s Lifetime Channel premiered the show on January 21, and it will be shown in South Africa on DStv’s Lifetime (channel 131) at 8pm on Saturday, April 29.

The original Beaches, which was directed by Garry (Pretty Woman) Marshall and adapted by Mary Agnes Donoghue from a novel of the same title by Iris Rainer Dart, also featured Mayim Bialik, James Read, John Heard and Lainie Kazan.

Despite generally tepid reviews, the film raked in $57 million at the box office, gained a cult following, spawned a hit soundtrack album and also sparked talk of a sequel, Beaches II: I’ll Be There, which never came to fruition.

The theme song, Wind Beneath My Wings, was a massive worldwide hit for Midler. It reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and scooped Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1990.

It may not be commonly known that the success of the original movie, which was nominated for an Oscar for art direction, led to a stage musical adaptation, Wikipedia pointing out that the musical premiered at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, in February 2014.

For the Lifetime remake of Beaches, the big songs, Glory of Love and Wind Beneath My Wings, are sung by Menzel and the Youtube videos are worth checking out.

Let me know your thoughts as I, for one, don’t believe Menzel is any match for Midler on Wind Beneath My Wings (a little lacklustre and lacking emotion, with a forgettable arrangement, don’t you think?). However, I rate Menzel’s rendition of Glory of Love as a winner.

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IDINA MENZEL SINGS WIND BENEATH MY WINGS FROM
THE LIFETIME CHANNEL REMAKE OF BEACHES

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