It is powerful. It is political. And the music is pretty good too.
Another review from Team PghLesbian. This time Laura went to see Jagged Little Pill at The Benedum and has some thoughts on the show built on the album that defined our young adulthoods. As always, we are not trained reviewers, but we do have lots of opinions. That’s something you oughta know ~ Sue
Jagged Little Pill, based upon Alanis Morissette’s album of the same name, rolled into Pittsburgh last night at the Benedum. It will be there until January 29, 2023. Jagged Little Pill, the album (I actually have it on cassette tape!) was released in 1995. I recall its presence was all over the airwaves and it was a sound of female empowerment that was pretty raw. The musical, based upon a book by Diablo Cody, made its Broadway debut on December 5, 2019, and won two Tony Awards (it was nominated for fifteen Tony Awards).
Until last night, I was unaware that the musical had some controversy over the depiction of several character’s sexual orientation and the treatment of transgender performers. Wanted to put that out there for full disclosure. My personal opinion is that, as a member of the LGBT community, I did not see an issue with how any of the characters were portrayed in this version of the musical.
I’ve talked in the past about how much I love the historic Benedum Theatre. Our seats were in a pretty good location and I could see and hear the musical perfectly (although I was a bit nervous when a big guy sat right in front of me). My companion for the evening was Anne and she seemed to very much enjoy the performance, as did I.
I don’t want to give too much away in this “review” but I want to state that this was one of the best musicals I have seen. It was sad, funny, powerful, uplifting. To try and review this musical is a bit hard because there was just so much packed into it. The musical follows a fictional family, the Healy family, a white, upper class suburban family from Connecticut. There’s mom, Mary Jane, dad Steve, son Nick and daughter, Frankie, who is adopted. The plot, in two acts with an intermission, is of course centered around the songs from Jagged Little Pill. The actress who performs as Mary Jane, Heidi Blickenstaff, was just outstanding–her vocals and acting were at the heart of the musical. (She reminded me of Martha Stewart, and her singing voice was very close to Alanis Morissette’s voice.) Mary Jo’s daughter, Frankie, played by Lauren Chanel, also had an amazing voice and was the moral center of the musical. One of the most powerful songs in the musical, “You Outta Know) was sung by an LGBT character, Jo (Jade McLeod). The song was at the center of Jagged Little Pill, the album, and is a powerful “kiss off” to a partner who abandons you.
The musical dealt with a lot: the pressure on women to be successful, on kids to be everything in order to get “into a good school,” LGBT and racial discrimination, opioid addiction, and so much more. The themes are pretty powerful and I was moved to tears at least once. The musical does deal with some heavy themes such as sexual assault, so be forewarned
Throughout the musical, there was dancing, a lot of it, all the time, and through every scene. There was one main dancer who danced in almost all of the scenes and she had some very skilled moves! There were also the ensemble dancers, some of whom did double duty as actors. The dancing was fun to watch and complimented the power of the music.
I would highly recommend seeing this musical. It is powerful. It is political. And the music is pretty good too.
Jagged Little Pill is on stage at The Benedum through Sunday, January 29, 2023. Tickets are selling quickly so don’t wait to get yours.
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