'If/Then' with Idina Menzel is Fastest-Selling Broadway Cast Album Since 'Rent'
The original cast album of the new Broadway musical If/Then (Masterworks Broadway), which stars "Let It Go" singer Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp, debuted on the Billboard Top 200 chart at #19, the first cast album to do so well in its first week in 18 years.
The last one was Rent, which entered the chart at the same position back in 1996. That show also starred Menzel and Rapp--and was originally directed by Michael Greif, who helmed If/Then too.
You could even say Idina Menzel has scored a (witch's)-hat trick, ruling the "airwaves" in three consecutive decades. Wicked, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary on Broadway, generated the best-selling cast album of the decade of the 2000s, featuring the voices of Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.
The voice of Frozen's "Queen Elsa" made her name on Broadway in Rent, receiving a Tony nomination. She ascended to the theatrical firmament as Elphaba in Wicked, winning a Tony Award in the process.
But If/Then was written with Idina Menzel specifically in mind--a rarity for an original musical on today's theater scene, if you don't count celebrity-focused star vehicles like Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, with Audra McDonald channeling Billie Holiday.
Back when Broadway music was central to pop culture, cast albums often sold big. My Fair Lady's cast album clung to the Billboard charts for a massive 480 weeks beginning in 1959. South Pacific held the #1 spot for 69 weeks in 1949-50.
In the Nielsen/SoundScan era, the best-selling cast album is 1987's The Phantom Of The Opera.
The era when success on Broadway meant big record sales is largely past, and of course there's no way to know how the If/Then cast album will sell as time goes on. But Menzel and the rest of the cast must be very pleased with its Billboard splash, especially after the musical itself came up empty at the 2014 Tony Awards.