Review.- Jagged Little Pill, the Broadway Musical

Alanis Morisette songs cannot be sung by just anyone...

As soon as I saw the announcement of Jagged Little Pill being turned into a musical, I was filled with excitement and questions. Was it going to be about Alanis? What songs will make the cut?
I’ve never liked the reference “jukebox musical”. I think it is pejorative and really puts down something before it even reaches a shape.

Elizabeth Stanley, seated near table at left, and Celia Rose Gooding, seated at right, with the ensemble of “Jagged Little Pill.”Credit...Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

I will now walk you through what I experienced in my newly brought opportunity to see this show. I have never won a ticket lottery (or any other lottery for that matter) and this was not the exception. So, I went on over to the Broadhurst Theatre to get a chance on “rush” tickets. For those not familiar with the term, rush is those tickets set at a decent price like 20 to 45 dollars and that is leftover or have not been sold for that same day. 

Getting tickets and being at the theatre
The rush sale starts at 10:00 a.m. Arriving at the theatre at 9:15 am, there were about 100 people in line already… lord…As soon as my friends and I started the line, the man first in line looked at us and said, “there is no way you will get tickets”. Well, I thought that was rude and asshole-ish of him, so I just ignored and prayed. Rightfully so, when our turn came up at the box office, there were no more tickets for either show of the day. There was “standing room only”. That means, they take you to the back of the room (usually at the back of the orchestra) and you watch the performance on your feet. This is a 2 hour and 45-minute show… we went for it and they charged us 40 dollars for each ticket. Really? I understand this is a business, but I do not agree. I think they should sell those for 15-20 dollars tops. AND, being in that area before the beginning, ending of the show, and intermission is a LIABILITY. I took a video of the stampede-like experience where I had to run away to the second floor of the poorly run theatre in order to protect myself. There is no exaggeration, and I consider this issue important and in urgent need to be addressed. Everyone gets caught up on the lights, the marquee names, the expensive merch, the bar, and not the logistics/contingencies of the venue. I have been working in different theatres for over 10 years in Tijuana, San Diego, and Mexico City. I have never seen such chaotic and negligent handling of patrons in a theatre. In the video, there is a red velvet wall. THAT is where the standing room only places are.

The show
With no idea of what the story was about, I was a bit aware of the big deal made around Celia Rose Gooding being cast. With that, I thought that the story revolved around the young African American woman. It does not. 

I am not one to tell the story of a musical when I am reviewing it but in order to get my point across I will. Spoiler alert! I am sorry…

Elizabeth Stanley as Mary Jane and Celia Rose Gooding as Frankie in Jagged Little Pill the Musical. Photo: Instagram

Mary Jane Healy (Get it? Mary Jane?... played by Elizabeth Stanley) is married to Steve Healy (Sean Allan Krill) they are parents to Nick (Derek Klena) and adopted Frankie (Celia Rose Gooding) when she was a baby. The family is very well off and living in Connecticut. Frankie bumps heads with her mother frequently and really does not feel like she belongs. Nick got accepted to an ivy league college and is not sure but does not want to disappoint his mother. Mary Jane and Steve’s marriage is not doing too well. She was in a car accident and has been addicted to painkillers ever since. With no more prescriptions, Mary Jane tries to get her drugs in other places and Steve is too busy working his life off to notice. Meanwhile, Frankie is in a romantic relationship with her best friend Jo (Lauren Patten). Yet, during a class where the students are making fun of the grammar of the song Ironic, Frankie meets Phoenix and they become hot and heavy quick. 

Then, there’s a school party with alcohol, drunkenness, and unfortunately, sexual abuse. Bella (Kathryn Gallagher), Nick’s good friend, is the victim. The story suddenly shifts and focuses on keeping secrets and enabling terrible behavior. With this, I think then it is unveiled that the story is truly about Mary Jane and I will not give away any more spoilers. I will now talk about the performances…

This show proves that it is extremely hard to interpret/perform Alanis Morissette's songs live. It is noticeable how most of the cast truly struggles to hit those unique Alanis notes. Celia, I consider, is the one that struggles the most with her notes. Although a great actress and dancer, the singing is a bit weak. Elizabeth Stanley as Mary Jane is delightful. As is Kathryn Gallagher as Bella. What a wonderful job, truly a marvelous delivery. 

Lauren Patten is Jo in Jagged Little Pill the Musical. Photo: Instagram
The star of the show for me, is Lauren Patten, man! She gives all the feels. I have never seen during a musical, a cast having to stop the show for a couple of minutes due to a standing ovation and a crowd going crazy over what they just saw. And because of that moment, Jagged Little Pill is worth it. That and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s amazing choreography. A work of art that stands out through the moves of Heather Lang and Nora Schell. The chorus in general brings magic to the stage boosting a story that although current and necessary, is not fully solid. 
For those true Alanis Morisette fans, I do recommend this show. The reviews are very mixed. I think it is a young cast that brings current views to the table and I can appreciate that. Again, the story could use some work, but the musical arrangements and the choreography make it all worth it. 

The standing-room-only…NOT worth it.

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