All I Really Want
Jagged Little Pill has officially opened at the American Repertory Theatre. I went to see the show earlier in the week with a friend, but I had been on the fence about getting tickets. I grew up with Alanis Morissette on the radio and knew all her songs well, but I didn’t know what it would be as a musical. I didn’t even look up what it was all about. Between ballet rehearsals, end of year school meetings, various other chores and work looking into it wasn’t a priority. I still had a loud voice in the back of my mind asking me, “Will you regret not getting tickets and going? It will probably sell out and then you’ll regret it.” Luckily, my friend had two tickets and we were going! I rearranged the evening to make it work and the answer to that question is now clear. Yes I would have regretted not going and I have a new voice asking me, “Will you regret not going again with Isabelle?”
In Jagged Little Pill, the musical, Alanis Morissette’s songs that were anthems to my life as a young adult becomes the anthem to many of the themes we are living through right now. When I went to see the show, I’m not sure many audience members had Morissette’s music as their teenage theme songs. They seemed to be more of the Christmas Letter generation (you’ll understand more about that when you see the show). It made for a very interesting energy. Regardless of the generations, it seemed to be well received by all. Then of course there was a large percentage of us who were completely blown away.
Right Through You
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show where there is a standing ovation in the middle of the performance. Lauren Patten as Jo, singing “You Oughta Know” had that teenage (or maybe not just teenage) rage running through all our veins. Patten didn’t get there alone though. The dynamic between each set of characters in the story held their own. It took an incredibly strong cast of singers, dancers and actors to set the foundation for that moment in the show and then Patten took it to the next level. From the singing and dancing (the choreography had so much more dimension and vibrance than your average musical), to the incredible set design and lighting, I was swept away in the moment of it all. The creativity in the lighting and staging is next level.
So what is the show? Well it is set in a suburban town in Connecticut named Greenport (I got married in Westport and in high school lived a few towns over from Greenwich so I know such a town very well). If you’re not sure what life in such a town is like, just watch a few episodes of American Housewife. The Healy’s of Greenport are just dealing with every day life and that includes the issues we are all processing and thinking through whether we are teens, parents of teens, grandparents of teens, housewives, wives, husbands, or spouses.
There are many “in your face” messages about the world we are living in and then some subtle moments exposing our biases. The show taps into what you might call movements in our current lives, but their more than movements. Collectively they are movements, but privately they are moments we have all experienced at some point either directly or via close friends and family. Powerful moments that we are left alone with and carry for years or maybe decades until moments like this.
All this is to say. Go see it. You won’t regret it. It is recommended for grade 9 and above. I would feel comfortable taking my daughter, but not everyone will. The topic of rape, drug addiction, and such are presented in an way that is not excessive or gratuitous just very real.
Jagged Little Pill at the American Repertory Theatre runs from May 5th to July 19th. You can get tickets online here or at the box office. Jagged Little Pill incorporates selections from Alanis Morissette’s music. This world-premiere musical is directed by Diane Paulus. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody wrote the book for the screenplay. Music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt and choreography is by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.