Broadway Beyond Louisville Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at The Aronoff Center

Running Now - April 2nd

By: Mar. 29, 2023
Broadway Beyond Louisville Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at The Aronoff Center
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Jagged. Little. Pill. Three words that instantly spark reaction from anyone who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s. Alanis Morissette released her iconic landmark album in 1995, and it's since been cemented in the memory and zeitgeist of pop culture. With the rise of jukebox musicals in the last 15 years, it was inevitable that Morissette's catalog would eventually get the theatrical treatment. With the vision of Broadway mainstay director Dianne Paulus and the dialogue of Oscar winning screenwriter Diablo Cody, Morissette's music and lyrics bring an original "feel everything" story to the stage.

The show centers around the Healys, an everyday, average family in Connecticut. But not everything is as it seems. The matriarch of the family, Mary Jane "MJ" Healy, is trying to maintain perfection in the aftermath of a car crash that awakened old demons and brought new ones. Her husband Steve is a workaholic trying to provide; Frankie is their youngest and adopted bisexual daughter, a young activist fighting her mother tooth and nail for every reason she can find; and Nick is their oldest son, the Harvard-accepted golden boy who does everything right. When Nick's friend Bella Fox is sexually assaulted at a party, the family starts to unravel with the trauma it causes to resurface and create.

Bligh Voth (filling in for Heidi Blickenstaff) did an absolutely phenomenal job as MJ. The role requires everything she has, and Voth left it all on the stage. From the highs of her comedic chops and jaw dropping vocals to her dramatic and heartbreaking lows, Voth leads the show like a seasoned professional. Chris Hoch as Steve is great in the show. His character is arguably the most underwritten, but Hoch finds great moments of sincerity throughout the show. Lauren Chanel is scrappy and ferocious as Frankie. She plays the character with a lot of sass, pathos, and teenage naïveté- all the while showcasing her smooth and fluid vocals. Dillion Klena as Nick is sincere and charming. Klena was a great voice, and his scenes with Voth's MJ are particularly moving and devastating.

The cast is rounded out by Jade McLeod as Jo, Frankie's best "friend". McLeod is given the vocal feast of getting to sing "You Outta Know". Without giving context or spoiling plot, they bring down the house in what's arguably the most thrilling moment in the show. Allison Sheppard does a wonderful job as Bella; her vocal performance is superb, and her portrayal is absolutely sobering and beautiful.

At times it feels like the story takes on more than it can handle, particularly with character archs and the sensitive subjects. It's mostly successful in its current form, but some focus could be beneficial. The show discusses things that deserve to be highlighted, but sometimes it feels it isn't delving into the topics as well as it could. The music, and how it's integrated into the story, feels very cohesive and natural, which is not an easy feat for most musicals of its type. The set design is simple but sleek and effective, making use of limited set pieces and multiple sliding panels and projections to set the scenes.

While Jagged Little Pill isn't perfect, it does a lot correctly. The performances all around are thrilling-- with the MVPs being Voth and McLeod-- and the music sounds phenomenal coming from such a talented group of performers. The show is only around for a limited time, and I wholeheartedly recommend you get a ticket to this wild, funny, sad, and ultimately cathartic ride of a musical.


Now - April 2nd

Aronoff Center For The Arts

650 Walnut Street Cincinnati, OH 45202.