see it in Minneapolis now through August 13. Alanis is such a great storyteller; her songs are so full of complex and clearly written characters, drama, and emotion, that they're perfect fodder for a musical. Diablo Cody, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Juno, wrote the book and has crafted a modern story of a family dealing with a multitude of issues, that utilizes the songs well. There are occasional slight tweaks to the lyrics to fit the story, but the emotional core of each song, and Alanis' work in general, is retained. It's a messy, dramatic, and ultimately hopeful story about a family and community that loves and supports each other, even if they're flawed people who make mistakes, i.e., humans. As a longtime fan of Alanis (Jagged Little Pill came out when I was in college, but I wasn't really into pop music at that time, so I didn't embrace her until the mid-aughts, and prefer the 10th anniversary acoustic version of JLP), I loved hearing her songs onstage sung by this amazing company of actors. How someone unfamiliar with these songs would appreciate the show, I can't say, but I like to think it would stand on its own. See for yourself at the Orpheum Theatre - click here for the official ticket purchasing site, and to find information on the student/educator rush.
|just a normal happy family (photo by Matthew Murphy)|
The score features about two dozen songs written by Alanis Morissette - the entire 12-track Jagged Little Pill, plus some later songs, and two new ones penned for this show. One of them, "Smiling" (which is brilliantly staged as Mary Jane is walking backwards through her day), sounds like I must have heard it before because it's such an Alanis song. Composer Tom Kitt (who wrote the music for Next to Normal) provided new arrangements and orchestrations for these familiar and beloved songs, adding some great harmonies and allowing each vocalist to bring their own particular talents to the songs. No one can sing like Alanis Morissette, and they don't try to. The eight-piece onstage rock band (including strings) sounds fantastic, and is revealed at certain times in the show, which is always a thrill.
|Jade McLeod as Jo sings "You Oughta Know"|
(photo by Matthew Murphy)
|Lauren Chanel as Frankie with the ensemble|
(photo by Matthew Murphy)
I'm in general not a huge fan of the jukebox musical, but this one is done well. Alanis Morissette's 25+ year catalogue lends itself well to theatrical storytelling, and the creators have done a good job piecing everything together. And this cast simply couldn't be better.