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Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at The Paramount Theatre

Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at The Paramount Theatre

A jukebox musical with way too much to say.

Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at The Paramount Theatre
Jade McLeod and the
North American Touring Company of Jagged Little Pill.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Dear Readers, I'm going to offer up a few unpopular opinions of mine. First, I'm not a huge fan of Alanis Morissette. Not that I dislike her, but her album of "Jagged Little Pill" was never my jam. And second, the jukebox musical "Jagged Little Pill", currently playing at the Paramount Theatre, that takes on the music of Morissette has a book that can't find who or what it wants to talk about. So instead, it talks about everyone and everything to pretentious effect.

The Tony Award winning book from Diablo Cody takes on an entire family and their friends and every hot button issue that can be found in the family/teen dramas of the CW. We focus on the Healy family. Mary Jane and Steve Healy (Heidi Blickenstaff and Chris Hoch) and their son Nick (Dillon Klena) and adopted daughter Frankie (Lauren Chanel). Steve works too much and is never around so Mary Jane keeps her perfect world going with the help of opioids leaving Steve to his porn addiction. Nick is driven to be the perfect young man. Having just gotten into Harvard he seems to have it all until a party where his friend Bella (Allison Sheppard) is sexually assaulted while passed out. And activist Frankie is struggling with her issues with being a black girl adopted by a white family as well as her bisexuality as she has trouble deciding who she likes, her best friend Jo (Jade McLeod) or the new boy Phoenix (Rishi Golani). Overwhelmed yet? I know I was. And that's just a few of the issues they hammered home.

Cody seems to have trouble figuring out whose story she wants to tell and whose show this is so rather than deciding, she throws them all together hoping the audience will be able to latch onto at least one of these topics. But with so many issues in one place it just feels desperate to seem woke. Just pick a story already.

Morissette's music fits into the telling of the stories for the most part, but much of it falls into a morass of noise as the band often overpowers the vocals so, unless you know these songs by heart, you're bound to miss many of the lyrics. Lyrics that are at the crux of telling these stories.

And that desperation seems to extend to other aspects as well. The choreography is so wild and in your face that it ceases to convey any meaning. And that includes the two different dream ballet like moments where a dancer is twisting and contorting as they shadow one of the main characters. And the lighting from Justin Townsend seems intent on blinding the audience repeatedly.

The actors have their moments though many take the "importance" of their moments over the top. There are some exceptions. Blickenstaff is probably the most engaging of the show which is no surprise considering how good she is and has been in other shows. And McLeod tackles the vocally insane "You Oughta Know" with gusto and brings down the house. Even a novice Morissette listener like myself knew that one and could get into it.

All told, this show is for a certain type of theatergoer. A Morissette fan, for sure. And as a fan, someone who already knows the lyrics of her songs. And someone who wants to have all the feels with as many hot topics as possible and isn't picky about how they're delivered. If you are any of those people, then you'll probably have a great night. Unfortunately, none of those people are me. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give "Jagged Little Pill" at the Paramount Theatre a "I recognize the talent on stage and in the songs, but it was just too overblown for me" MEH. Not every songbook needs a jukebox musical. Just like not every issue from the headlines needs to be addressed in a single show.

"Jagged Little Pill" performs at the Paramount Theatre through November 13th. For tickets or information visit Seattle Theatre Group online at www.STGPresents.org.




From This Author - Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting... (read more about this author)


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