Review Roundup: What Did The Critics Think Of JAGGED LITTLE PILL at A.R.T.?
Jagged Little Pill began previews on Saturday, May 5 at the Loeb Drama Center and officially opened last night. The production is on stage through July 15.
Inspired by the themes and emotions laid bare in Alanis Morissette's Grammy Award-winning album, Jagged Little Pill is an original story about pain, healing, and empowerment. The Healys appear to be a picture-perfect suburban family-but looks can be deceiving. When the Healys' lives are disrupted by a series of disturbing events, they must choose between maintaining the status quo or facing harsh truths about themselves, their community, and the world around them.
Including iconic songs "Ironic," "You Oughta Know," and "Hand In My Pocket," Jagged Little Pill incorporates selections from Morissette's catalogue and new material written for this world-premiere musical directed by Diane Paulus (Waitress, Finding Neverland, Pippin, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess) and featuring a book by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno), music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), and choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Beyoncé's 2017 Grammy performance).
The Jagged Little Pill cast features Elizabeth Stanley (On the Town and Million Dollar Quartet on Broadway) as Mary Jane; Sean Allan Krill (Honeymoon in Vegas and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever) as Steve; newcomer Celia Gooding as Frankie; Derek Klena (Anastasia and The Bridges of Madison County on Broadway) as Nick; and Lauren Patten (Fun Home on Broadway) as Jo. Ensemble members include Jane Bruce, John Cardoza, Antonio Cipriano, Kathryn Gallagher, Laurel Harris, Logan Hart, Max Kumangai, Soph Menas, Sean Montgomery, Nora Schell, Whitney Sprayberry, Kei Tsuruharatani, and Ebony Williams. Yeman Josiah Brown and Kelsey Orem are swings.
Jagged Little Pill includes music by Alanis Morissette & Glen Ballard, lyrics by Alanis Morissette, additional music by Michael Farrell & Guy Sigsworth, scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Justin Townsend, sound design by Jonathan Deans, and video design by Finn Ross.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Jesse Green, NY Times: Slick earnestness is a tough swallow - a jagged little pill of its own. At least for now, this well intentioned and intermittently thrilling musical makes you want to applaud its efforts at "wokeness" while also wondering if wokeness has become just another form of virtue signaling. It feels like what might have happened if the Tribe from "Hair" (which Ms. Paulus also directed, in 2008) had actually made it to college - probably Mount Holyoke.
Christopher Muther, Boston Globe: But lest you forget, this musical has Paulus's steady hand and Cody's smart voice guiding it through the rat-race maze. Just when it feels as if the story will collapse under the weight of its ambition, a character delivers a humorous line that provides enough helium to lift the show upright again. Or, other times, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's stunning choreography takes over and lifts you out of reality and into a place of beauty. Any choreographer who can turn an onstage overdose into a writhing sofa ballet should begin preparing a Tony acceptance speech.
Dan Wootton, The Sun: The staging is spectacular. There's one song performed backwards in a time warp - even featuring a spin class on stage. And, of course, Alanis' music stands the test of time, with the lyrics translated with perfection to the story being told. All I Really Want, You Oughta Know, Hand In My Pocket, Unprodigal Daughter, Thank U and You Learn are highlights.
Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald: Morissette, Cody and director Diane Paulus layer on the darkness - the dreamy, disassociation with which they imbue the rape scene is rightly horrifying. But both Morissette and Cody fill their art with defiance and rebirth. Morissette writes simple songs with anthemic lyrics and irrepressibly lovable melodies; Cody has a ability to find cheeky, cutting humor in suburban shadows.
Iris Fanger, The Patriot Ledger: The #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements are covered, not to mention current anxieties about gender, secret porn watching, loneliness and the quest to win parental love by collecting a shelf full of trophies. It's a lot of heavy stuff to digest and after two-and-half hours, Cody wraps up the conflicts as if to mimic a Shakespearean finale. She ties together the ends of plot strands perhaps too neatly to be believed.
Jan Nargi, BroadwayWorld: But the breakout star of JAGGED LITTLE PILL is Patten as the fierce yet vulnerable Jo. Her vocals are perfectly suited to Morissette's raw and edgy songs. She expresses a combination of love and agonizing loss in the reflective "Your House" then tears the roof off the theatre with her rage-filled anthem "You Oughta Know." For this she received a sustained standing ovation, well deserved, indeed.