Actress Idina Menzel has a special place in her heart for musical RENT - it saved her from a life as a slutty teenage Bar Mitzvah singer.

Menzel was a real-life struggling singer when she landed the role of wannabe star MAUREEN in the hit Broadway show a decade ago, and now she has reprised her beloved character for a movie adaptation.

And she fears that if Rent hadn't come along she'd still be performing at Jewish parties.

She says, "When I was 15 I started becoming a Bar Mitzvah and wedding singer all over the Long Island area. I was illegally driving around in a car to get these gigs so I could make some money.

"I'd get, like, $100 for a Bar Mitzvah. I lied and said I was 18 so the bands would hire me.

"I'm this underage girl in my little, slutty, black sequin dress with all these older guys in the band. Some weekends I'd do really well and pay the rent and other days I'd struggle.

"I auditioned for Rent during my slow time and the show took off, so my last job was December 1995 New Years Eve, singing I'M SO EXCITED to bring in the New Year."

Menzel has another reason to be fond of Rent - she met her husband Taye Diggs in the show.