Jagged Little Pill Musical Mixes High School Melodrama with Alanis Morissette’s Music

Jade McLeod and the North American Touring Company of Jagged Little Pill. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade.

I still remember owning Jagged Little Pill, the third album from Alanis Morissette, back in 1995. “Hand in My Pocket,” “You Oughta Know,” and “Ironic” are a few examples of how moving and melodious her songs are. Decades later, the Candian-American singer-songwriter wanted to turn her music into a musical, and she collaborated with Tom Kitt, who worked on Green Day’s American Idiot musical. It was released on Broadway in 2019, and currently, it is touring across the nation. We attended the show during the opening night in Los Angeles, and it was an exciting event with Alanis Morissette herself making an appearance on the stage afterward. Jagged Little Pill’s choreography, music arrangement, and performances were marvelous. In spite of that, the story and characters were melodramatic, and although it talks about important issues, it felt hollow.

The story follows a family, each with their own issues and drama. Heidi Blickenstaff plays Mary Jane, a mother and wife who brags to her peers about how good she has it. Chris Hoch is Steve Healy, the husband and father who is too busy at work. Dillon Klena is Nick Healy, the teenage son dealing with the pressure of being accepted into a good university. And then there’s Lauren Chanel as Frankie, the adopted daughter and activist in high school.

Photo by Matthew Murphy, Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Jagged Little Pill’s main draw is Alanis Moressette’s music, and the jukebox musical has it all. Expect your favorite songs to be included in fun ways. One of the highlights is Chanel and Rishi Golani as Phoenix performing “Ironic.” It pokes fun of the song by pointing out how the lyrics aren’t really ironic, and it sets up the adorable love story between the two. Golani exudes charm and shines with his singing, making it seem effortless.

Blickenstaff is an outstanding performer, and “Smiling” was emotional and the choreography was mindboggling clever. The scenes play in reverse, and the ensemble and team behind that scene were flawless.

As much as I love the performances and the songs, overall, the songs just felt shoehorned in at certain spots.

Photo by Matthew Murphy, Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

With plenty of wonderful performances, it’s disappointing that the story was very lackluster. It took me a while to get into the groove of things and really get into the characters. As a whole, it felt like an after-school special, and the actual dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. Instead of just letting the story flow and develop, the musical tells the audience how they should think. The message is good, but it just felt like empy gestures where they were talking about topical issues just because these are hot issues right now.

Jagged Little Pill has wonderful performances, amazing choreography, and the amazing songs from Alanis Morissette, but it is hampered by the melodramatic, high school drama.

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