idinamenzelBelieve it or not, I haven’t seen Wicked. (My birthday’s next week, so maybe I’ll get tickets.) I read the book, which I liked up until about halfway through. I never saw the stage play of Rent, but I did see the movie version on my one, very strange semi-date with a photographer. I did see Enchanted, which I loved.

So I was slightly familiar with Idina Menzel before tonight, when I went to see her perform a showcase from her upcoming Warner Bros. debut album, I Stand. I dragged along my always game pal, Z, and, like our Vanessa Carlton adventure, it turned out to be a fantastic night.

Idina forgot lyrics, swore and sang all about how fucked up she is…is there any surprise that I loved her and the show? Tonight was a night when I really needed to hear Idina’s brand of “I’m a beautiful disaster,” and it’s like my inner snark just shut off. She looked gorgeous and has such a huge voice that it more than filled up the room, plus she played piano (in a charmingly awkward way) and teared up several times, including when she thanked hubby Taye Diggs, who came up onstage to hug her.

I’d been feeling so uninspired recently that it was as if someone were turning the lights back on inside me tonight. I stood there in the crowd, sweating in my jacket that I would never take off, feeling more and more as if I had something special to offer: a glow-in-the-dark, spinning fireworks/pinwheel heart that the right person will one day recognize and treasure, burning underneath my new Secret Wars t-shirt as brightly as the purple lights onstage.

Afterwards, my pal and I stumbled out afterwards with our complimentary Idina CD/DVD samplers and started driving back into the Valley. He was excited about his new iPod (mine’s dead) and was playing random songs, when he cued up a surprise for me.

As we drove up the Cahuenga pass out of Hollywood, with millions of tail lights ahead of us instead of stars (a la the ending of Valley Girl), the opening notes of Petula Clark’s “Downtown” started playing, and I felt such a rush of emotion: love for my friend, for the song, for L.A. and, most importantly, for myself.

“This is a great moment,” I said softly, more for my benefit than his. I told myself I wouldn’t forget how hopeful and happy I felt right then.