Alanis Morissette changed the world with her ground-breaking album Jagged Little Pill, released in 1995, when she was only 21 years old. It marks an astonishing release for the Canadian-American singer, songwriter, and actress. As her third studio album, it was her first album to be released worldwide and signifies a remarkable international debut.
The confessional-style release, with its raw power, gained her worldwide commercial success, topping the charts in thirteen countries. The alternative rock-oriented album with elements of post-grunge gained sales of over 33 million copies worldwide, it still stand as one of the best-selling albums of all time. Jagged Little Pill was nominated for nine Grammy Awards in 1996, winning five. She earned the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, making Morissette the youngest artist to win the top honor up to that point.
The songs of Jagged Little Pill were shaped into a rock musical of the same name in 2017, which earned fifteen Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical.
Now playing at The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, until October 2, the musical is a tour-de-force show of intense themes and powerful emotionality.
Joy, love, heartache, strength, wisdom, catharsis, life—everything we’ve been waiting to see in a Broadway show— is here in this exhilarating, fearless new musical based on Alanis Morissette’s world-changing music.
Directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Waitress, Pippin, upcoming 1776) with a Tony-winning book by Diablo Cody (Juno) and Grammy-winning score, this is an electrifying production that really nails all the pertinent themes of the album. The show’s compelling story is crafted by Cody to incorporate the phenomenal sound track within a heartfelt story of a nuclear family in crisis. Additionally, some songs were included from her follow-up album release Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998). “One Hand in My Pocket,” becomes the anthem of one character, the gender-fluid teenager, Jo, played passionately by Jade McLeod. Later, “You Oughta Know,” is delivered by this talented performer with such ferocity and passion, it transforms into an angry tirade that speaks for everyone who has been unceremoniously dumped by their sweetheart.
The musical begins with Mary Jane Healy (Heidi Blickenstaff) reading her annual Christmas letter. She’s a well-off suburban housewife married to Steve, (Chris Hoch), a senior partner at a top Manhattan firm. Their son Nick (Dillon Klena) just got accepted into Harvard, something Mary Jane is happy to crow about in her newsletter. Beneath the picture-perfect family veneer, however, strife lurks. Their adopted teen daughter Frankie (Lauren Chanel), who is black, is engaged in a (lesbian) love affair with her gender-fluid classmate Jo, and is starting to resent being raised in a “colorblind” family. We learn Mary Jane’s husband is addicted to porn and worse – Mary Jane is addicted to painkillers.
Jagged Little Pill addresses numerous topics: opiate addiction, transracial adoption, sexual assault, gender identity, marriage crisis, and mental health. Oh, and also misogyny, racism, transphobia, classism and disability rights. All of these important topics are handled surprisingly well, with a frank scrutiny that pulls no punches.
Unfortunately, not all of the singers are up to the challenge… Only two exceptionally strong voices — those of Heidi Blickenstaff in the central role of the Mom, and Jade McLeod as the gender-fluid BFF pushed aside by Frankie — can really belt out the tunes, which they do with true rock-goddess force. The remaining ensemble sing well enough. Sadly, the mix is muddy and the lyrics are difficult to discern.
Ultimately, this is a show that deals with pain, healing, and empowerment. The show’s story is simple and relevant, but the messages it conveyed are potent.
Jagged Little Pill
HOLLYWOOD PANTAGES THEATRE
6233 Hollywood Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Los Angeles, CA USA
Sep 13 – Oct 2, 2022
Pantages Theatre – Los Angeles
2 Hours and 40 Minutes, including intermission.
San Francisco, CA USA
Oct 11 – Nov 6
Golden Gate Theatre
Seattle, WA USA
Nov 8 – Nov 13