Carson School sophomore sings with Idina Menzel at the Lied Center

Carson School sophomore sings with Idina Menzel at the Lied Center

calendar icon04 Oct 2016    

Karen Richards
Karen Richards

Lincoln, Neb.--It’s not every day that you get to sing with Broadway star and ‘Frozen’ sensation Idina Menzel. But Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film Sophomore Karen Richards did just that during Menzel’s performance Sept. 30 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


“It was surreal,” Richards said. “I would never in a million years think that I would have this opportunity, at least not at this time in my life. I was so lost in the moment, I forgot there was an audience. Friday was, by far, the best night of my life.”


Menzel was performing “Take Me or Leave Me,” her iconic duet from the musical “Rent.” After completing the first verse, Menzel announced to the audience that since it was a duet, she needed a partner.


“I began to internally freak out, but then, she jumped off the stage, and I began to frantically wave my hands in the air, and she said, ‘You,’ and I sprung from my seat,” Richards said.


She joined two others selected on stage with Menzel, and Richards nailed it.


“Last year around this same time, I was chosen to perform with Kristin Chenoweth at the Omaha Performing Arts 10th Anniversary performance, where I was reminded why I loved musical theatre,” Richards said. “’Wicked’ was the first musical I ever got hooked to. I fell in love with Idina’s character, “Elphaba.’ I always tried to see if I could hit her high notes, which at a young age, I was unable to do. I am a big fan of amazing vocalists, and Idina is one of my favorites. Her vocal ability is mesmerizing.”


Menzel’s performance was her first time attending the Lied Center for Performing Arts, but she is thankful for this resource on campus.


“Having a resource like the Lied Center enables me to see professional theatre for a great price as a student,” Richards said. “Being able to see these shows opens my eyes to the world of theater that I’m working hard to be a part of. The only things that have halted me from seeing shows were money, being a poor college student, and my participation in other main stage plays at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. I’m looking forward to attending more performances at the Lied Center during my college career.”


She will be performing in the upcoming UNL Theatre production of “Hamlet,” by William Shakespeare, adopted and re-imagined by Assistant Professor of Practice Wesley Broulik, which opens Nov. 17.  She previously appeared in last year’s main stage performance of “She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen and has performed with the University Women’s Chorale.


Richards, who is a sophomore theatre major with a minor in musical theatre, is originally from Claremont, St. Ann Jamaica, but has been living in West Point, Nebraska.


“West Point is a small town, but I’m thankful for all the lessons they have taught me and all the support the community has given me since the day I became a part of their town,” she said.


Her dream is to perform on Broadway.


“My goal, God willing, is to perform on Broadway as my career,” she said. “My dream role is Ursula in ‘Little Mermaid.’ I have always been drawn to the character because of her low vocal tendency and her deviousness.”


But she also will not soon forget her performance with Menzel.


“I still cannot believe out of all the people in attendance, she chose me,” Richards said. “I’m still on cloud nine.”