Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at Lied Center For The Performing Arts

Lies. Misunderstandings. Imperfection. Drugs. Alanis.

By: Apr. 27, 2023
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Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at Lied Center For The Performing Arts
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You Oughta Know. Uninvited. Hand in My Pocket. You Learn. All iconic works from household name, Alanis Morissette, and just a few of the chart topping hits that are part of the Broadway touring production of the Tony Award winning musical Jagged Little Pill, now playing at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, NE. Featuring music by Grammy Award winners Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, and with additional music by Michael Farrell and Guy Sigsworth, orchestrations and arrangements by Tony Award winner Tom Kit, a book by Academy Award winner Diablo Cody, and direction from Tony Award winner Diane Paulus, Jagged Little Pill has some of the best in the business at the helm.

Jagged Little Pill opens centered around the seemingly perfect American family and slowly peels away the layers and shines a light through the cracks in the facade. The show feels like a musical combination of Rent and Next to Normal, with a touch of performance styling, emotion and contemporary choreography from American Idiot. While the concept and popularity of the source material should set the creative team up for success, the show falls flat with a book that feels more like an ode to almost every social issue in the news today than a story that incorporates important themes or issues in it. Musical numbers read more as stand alone music videos, which are exciting and engaging on their own, but do little to further the plot.

Leading the cast of young performers is Broadway veteran Heidi Blickenstaff, who is known for such hits as Something Rotten, Little Mermaid, and Disney's stage and television adaptations of Freaky Friday. Frankly, Blickenstaff is simply on a different level than others, with soaring and pitch-perfect vocals, comedic timing that is both unexpected and appreciated, and a sincerity brought to some challenging emotional moments that just wouldn't land if not handled with the care and professionalism she possesses. Her performance of "Uninvited," complemented by a stellar contemporary dance by Jena VanElsander and some haunting harmonies by Allison Sheppard, is reason alone to hit that purchase ticket button, as it's sure to leave even the most skeptical theatergoer in awe.

Crowd favorite Jade McLeod (Jo) delivers an energetic and rockin' rendition of the smash hit "You Oughta Know," while Lauren Chanel (Frankie) earns massive applause for her performance of "Unprodigal Daughter." Allison Sheppard (Bella) has a vocal range that seems to know no limits as she tackles the chilling "Predator," as well as while providing stunning harmonies to the show-stopping "Uninvited." Sean Doherty steps up and complements Blickenstaff's Mary Jane, playing her dejected workaholic husband, Steve. Doherty has a gorgeous tone to his voice that makes me wish there was a recording of his performance. Rounding out the leading roles are Dillon Klena and Rishi Golani, who play Nick and Phoenix respectfully. Both bring a stillness and sincerity to their performances, accompanied by some truly beautiful vocals.

Alanis Morissette fans will be delighted from beginning to end, simply because the songs are iconic and the artists give their all and deliver passionate performances of each hit. While not a show that I would necessarily consider family friendly due to language, adult themes and moments of sexual violence, it may open the door to some important conversations to have with those you love. And isn't that one of the many powerful gifts of theatre?

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy


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