Idina Menzel has moved into her 11-year-old son Walker’s treehouse. The Tony winner is hosting a children’s show, “Idina’s Treehouse,” from the arboreal.
The program, which streams on Menzel’s YouTube page and is shot entirely on iPhones, features an infectious theme song and Menzel singing (of course) and reading books. “I feel like we can really explore some great issues, and just do it in a way that’s not scary but that’s fun and enlightening,” she says.
An upcoming episode will touch on loneliness during the pandemic. Menzel imagines she’ll also address issues around race engendered by her son, who is biracial (Dad is Menzel’s ex-husband, actor Taye Diggs). “Walker happens to be extremely intuitive, sensitive, empathic, aware of what’s going on around him,” the “Frozen” star says, adding that she’s preparing for him to ask questions about the Trump supporters who breached the Capitol building last week. “He’ll say, ‘All the police were out there arresting Black people this summer, but now nobody’s doing anything?’” Menzel says.
“Idina’s Treehouse” also features appearances by Aunt Cara (Menzel’s sister, Cara Mentzel, a schoolteacher) and Farmer Scott (played by Scott Freeburg) and his chicken, Mrs. Roper.
Menzel says the idea of a show first popped up after she used the treehouse to put herself on tape for an audition. She admits she also heads to the hideaway when she wants some time by herself. When appropriate, she expects to belt out her signature songs “Let It Go” and “Defying Gravity.” “I just want it to feel unforced and there to be real joy in it,” Menzel says. “I’m using my voice to connect to connect with young people and to help them amplify their voices. That’s something I feel strongly about. The fact is I am a woman in her 40s who is known for this very big, bold singing voice but who also has to struggle to find her own inner voice.”
It’s no coincidence that the show is reminiscent of 1970s New York children’s television program “The Magic Garden.” One of the two hosts was the mom of Menzel’s childhood best friend. “I feel there’s something about nature and being a grown-up in a kids space that makes you just kind of get silly and revisit your inner child,” Menzel says. “I just want to stay true to the reason I did it in the first place, which is literally to bring a smile to some parents’ faces and give them a little break for a minute.”
The producers of “Treehouse” are Loudmouth Media, SB Projects’ Scooter Braun, Scott Manson and James Shin, and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh of Surfer Jack Studios.