Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at Princess Of Wales

Alanis Morissette's generation defining album is brought to life in a bold and daring new musical on stage until November 26

By: Nov. 08, 2023
Review: JAGGED LITTLE PILL at Princess Of Wales

Alanis Morissette's album Jagged Little Pill defined a generation of teens and young adults growing up in the 90s. We sang along to "Ironic" - and then learned in English class that nothing about the song was actually ironic - and rage sang to "You Oughta Know". We discovered the mystery behind hidden tracks when we let the CD play out and found the a capella song "Your House" at the very end. Morissette's songs encapsulated specific moments and feelings in life and with the rising trend of jukebox musicals, it was only a matter of time before this iconic album received it's introduction to the theatrical stage. On now until November 26, 2023, Jagged Little Pill the Musical is set to dazzle audiences at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

The story woven into Jagged Little Pill revolves around suburban house wife and mom Mary Jane Healy (Julie Reiber), her over worked and often away husband Steve (Benjamin Eakeley), her recently-accepted-to-Harvard son Nick (Dillon Klena) and her adopted social justice warrior daughter Frankie (Teralin Jones). It's the holiday season and Mary Jane sits to compose her annual holiday family newsletter singing the praises of her perfect family. Next year will be even better...except life has a funny way of sneaking up on you. Like a husband who has grown to prefer spending his nights at his office than at home, a house party gone terribly wrong, and then those pesky pain meds stop doing what they're supposed to.

There are many ways that Jagged Little Pill stands out but one way that needs to be mentioned is how seamlessly Morissette's songs are woven into the story. It just works so well that you forget the album existed for decades before the story was written around it and not the other way around. Credit goes to Diablo Cody who wrote the book utilizing the themes of isolation and the desire to belong prevalent in Morissette's music to drive this timeless story.

Of course, the performances are simply superb. Reiber is wonderful as Mary Jane. The pinnacle of her performace is during the song "Uninvited" where we see her character hit rock bottom. During that song, a version of Mary Jane performed by dancer Shelby Finnie dances with Reiber so it appears as if Mary Jane is fighting with herself to jaw-dropping effect.

Mention has to be made to Jade McLeod as Jo who's spite filled performance of "You Oughta Know" is truly shocking. Their choice to stand menacingly while performing the song with building quiet anger adds volumes to the tone of the scene.

Another stand out performance is delivered by Allison Sheppard as Bella, a poor victim of sexual assault. Her performance of "Predator" also features dancer Finnie similarily dancing as Bella. Sheppard's pain in her role is palpable and real, she's mesmerizing. Likewise is Jones as Frankie whose goal of defending the voiceless and her own self discovery touches home for many a disenfranchised young person who witnesses racism and injustice daily.    

The ensemble, the band, the lights, set, sound, all of it combined make Jagged Little Pill so much more than just a jukebox musical. It is raw, and dark and uplifting all at once in ways that very few commercial productions dare traverse, and for that reason, the themes throughout will remain timeless. Go out and see your new favorite rock musical. 

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

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