Quote of the Day: What it comes down to is I haven’t got it all figured out just yet. I have one hand in my pocket, and the other one is giving the peace sign. lyrics from Alanis Morisette’s Hand in my Pocket, song from her album and musical jagged little pill. Book by Diablo Cody, Additional music by Glen Ballard, Directed by Diane Paulus, Choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Music supervision and arrangements by Tom Kitt, Scenic Design by Roccardo Hernández, Costumes by Emily Rebholz, Lighting by Justin Townsend, Sound by Jonathan Deans, and Video design by Lucy Mackinnon.
Alanis Morisette’s musical jagged little pill debuted on Broadway Dec. 5, 2019, and closed due to the global pandemic in March of 2020. It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards in 2020, winning for Best Book by Diablo Cody and Lauren Patton for featured actress in her portrayal of Jo. I list many of the creators in the opening paragraph to highlight the enormous talent that went into producing this show and because their work was nominated for the Tony’s. The jagged little pill US Tour has a stop at Minneapolis’ Orpheum Theater, August 8-13, 2023. It’s spectacular!
The jagged little pill musical is a family drama set to the exciting and angst-filled music of Alanis Morisette’s album by the same name. We follow the Healy family through it’s trials and tribulations. The mother, Mary Jane, wants to have a perfect life, the one that people try to portray in their annual holiday letters, or social media posts. Her son, Nick, is the golden child. He just got accepted into Harvard, and his parents couldn’t be prouder. The dad, Steve, is a workaholic who hasn’t been around much, and his relationship with his wife has suffered. Add to that Mary Jane’s car accident and injuries that lead to an addiction to painkillers. Her world is spinning out of control. Their adopted daughter Frankie, age 16, is going through her own identity crisis. She’s the only Black person in her all-white adopted family. She’s exploring her sexuality, at one point telling her mother that she’s bisexual, and searching for a cause. The show deals with some pretty heavy topics of addiction, marital conflict, family drama, interracial adoption, sexuality, rape, and activism. At first, I thought it was trying to do too much, but it settled into a plausible plot that many people can relate to.
Heidi Blickenstaff is stunning as Mary Jane with a rockstar voice and emotional strength of a seasoned actor. She has full command of this character, even as her character is losing her control over her family and environment. Chris Hoch is wonderful as Steve, the hard-working, trying to check back in, dad. I loved his voice and would have enjoyed hearing more solos by him. Dillon Klena plays the over-achiever son Nick. He has a gorgeous voice, as well, and a stage presence that draws your attention. Nick has much to deal with from overly demanding expectations to doing the right thing after a horrible incident at a party. Lauren Chanel is absolutely amazing at Frankie. She is filled with teen angst, questions, a fighting spirit and a need to find out where she belongs and a cause worth fighting for.
The rest of the cast is mostly ensemble with an incredible dance troupe. I loved the staging and choreography as they weave in and out of scenes, taking on specific characters, then being part of a crowd. Stand-outs here were Allison Sheppard as Bella, who experiences terrible trauma and rises above it, an emotionally challenging role. Jade McLeod is terrific as Jo, Frankie’s girlfriend who feels the sting of rejection. Her performance of “You Oughta Know” nearly brought the house down! Jena VanElslander performed spectacular dance/contortionist moves in “Uninvited” an inner dialogue song with Mary Jane and company.
The entire performance of jagged little pill is high energy excitement and drama from start to finish. I can see why audiences loved it, and that it is especially appealing to a younger audience with the themes, characters, and stunning dance moves. You can see jagged little pill at the Orpheum in Minneapolis, MN through 8/13/23. Go to Hennepin Theatre Trust website for tickets and showtimes, or visit the website for the show to see if they have a stop in a city near you. It’s a show worth seeing and experiencing for yourself!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What were some of the hot button topics during your high school years? Did any songs help you cope with your own angst?