BWW Review: Not Your Normal Entertainment's IF/THEN Travels Two Paths at Plant City Entertainment

BWW Review: Not Your Normal Entertainment's IF/THEN Travels Two Paths at Plant City Entertainment
Photo by NYNE

Keep your eye on the Not Your Normal Entertainment (NYNE), a brand-new theatre company helmed by founder and director Joe Scarbrough. It's new to the community theatre scene, but it is definitely one to watch. Despite some opening night sound issues, I predict this freshman to go toe to toe with some of the senior theatres.

On Saturday, March 10, a packed house greeted the cast of If/Then, as they premiered at Plant City Entertainment against felt covered walls and an unadorned stage, complimented by a live orchestra.

If/Then is about choices. Without knowing until after the production it was the creative vision of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning creators of Next to Normal, it had a similar voice and writing style, so I Googled and was pleasantly surprised.

If/Then tells a story in two paths simultaneously - one woman, two lives. Elizabeth is an urban planning professor, divorced and returning from Arizona to New York for a new start. We meet Elizabeth in the park - where she leaves with her longtime activist BFF Lucas or stays to watch a concert with her friend Kate. Each choice determines a different life outcome.

Elizabeth's friends have coined her nicknames, symbolizing her potential identity in the Big Apple. Her life diverges into "Liz" and "Beth" and we see the events that transform her - from a career, finding love, an unexpected, but welcomed pregnancy and starting a family, friend's marriage and adoption, to the alternative - abortion, loss of a husband, and a friend's divorce - in concurrent, but separate timelines.

The ensemble cast as a very necessary part of the scenery, the group numbers like It's A Sign on a New York subway, where you believed they were riding a subway, the "wave" at a Met's game, and Elizabeth's 39th birthday are just some of the routines that showcased the choreography skills of the uber-talented Jarrett Koski.

Tracy Magruder proved why she was lead in my favorite song of the production, What The F**k, while Gabe Flores as Lucas tugged at my heartstrings in You Don't Need to Love Me and Randy Magruder as Josh made you begin to wonder in You Never Know.

And speaking of talent, the vocals in any song performed by NaTasha McKeller as Liz's friend Kate and Jason Mann as her boss Stephen were goosebump-worthy. I hope we'll hear more from these exceptional voices.

Like the opening song, What If?, this musical centers on different directions a life can take from seemingly random choices. I recommend you follow Joe and NYNE's production of If/Then down each path and see where it leads.

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From This Author Deborah Bostock-Kelley

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