“Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you.”
Another in a series of popular jukebox musicals is playing at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) through Sunday, January 22. Jagged Little Pill is a compelling story inspired by the groundbreaking 1995 Alanis Morissette album of the same name. The Tony and Grammy-award-winning production is stylish, entertaining, and thought-provoking. It’s a five-star show – highly recommended!
Yes, you’ll hear solid renditions of songs from the album, but don’t expect to see “The Alanis Morissette Story.” The production is a step up from most jukebox musicals, a genre that typically focuses on a band’s origin story. In this case, the plot has nothing to do with Alanis Morisette’s life any more than it does yours or mine. What you get is an authentic story centered around a suburban Connecticut family, seemingly perfect on the outside, but undoubtedly troubled from within.
The musical was penned by award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody, known for film and television including Juno, Jennifer’s Body, and United States of Tara. Her story reflects themes of rage, self-expression, and liberation found on the best-selling album, but her tale is a distinct narrative.
That fundamental plotline may seem familiar, but it always makes for a good story, particularly when accompanied by Morissette’s flawless lyrics, a kickass band, and superb choreography. The two elements work best together, the songs+the narrative makes for great theater. The underlying message isn’t so hidden, the placards displayed during the finale successfully bring together elements of Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movement.
JLP features strong acting and solid musicianship all around. You’ll see a standout performance from Heidi Blickenstaff who plays Mary Jane Healy, the perfect suburban mom, with secrets to hide. Also outstanding, Jade McLeod as Jo, a spurned lover who got the biggest ovation of the night for “You Outta Know,” one of the many musical highlights.
A gentle trigger warning. This show deals with issues of sexual assault, gender identity, and drug addiction directly. No doubt, it’s affirming for many (complete with audience shout-outs), yet potentially triggering for some. You will feel a little uncomfortable at times… but of course, that’s the point. JLP is certainly not a family show, although mature high schoolers would certainly be better for seeing it.
“And what it all boils down to/Is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet.”
No doubt, Jagged Little Pill might be hard to swallow, but these are issues that must be confronted. You can’t run away from your demons, but there’s liberation in surviving, and your friends and family can help get you through.
Don’t miss this one! Click here for tickets and further details on the show.