You oughta know: “Jagged Little Pill” is a must-see

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Skylar Stagaard

The 1995 record-breaking album ‘Jagged Little Pill’ by Alanis Morissette has indeed been transformed into a musical. The album that defined a generation with its relevance and emotion has been modernized to become extremely topical once again.
“Jagged Little Pill” opened as a musical on Thursday Dec. 5 at 8:00 pm. While some may believe it is merely a run-of-the-mill jukebox musical to tell the story of Alanis Morissette’s life, it is quite the contrary. Instead of becoming a simple “best of Alanis” tribute show, this musical is able to take the story of a family and directly apply it to topical issues of 2019.
The plot follows a typical suburban family, the Healy’s, breaking at the seams. The seemingly perfect mother, MJ (Elizabeth Stanley), has a growing addiction to oxycodone while the father, Steve (Sean Allan Krill) is struggling to find intimacy in their marriage.
The children are not excluded from the destruction of excellence the family once prided themselves with. Nick Healy (Derek Klena) is the golden-boy, the all-star athlete, student and son. However, when a fellow classmate, Bella (Kathryn Gallagher) is a victim of sexual assault, Nick is dragged into the mix and forced to embrace his individual thought.
His sister, an adopted African-American girl is in a time of exploration. Frankie (Celia Gooding) is on a path of self-discovery as she questions her race, sexuality and loyalty. When put in the middle of a love triangle between her best friend, Jo (Lauren Patten) and new love interest, Phoenix (Antonio Cipriano) Frankie is forced into a very difficult decision.
The plot, although extremely intricate, is not difficult to follow whatsoever. The creative team, including Diablo Cody and Diane Paulus, found a way to draw the characters out of the pre-existing music rather than forcing a storyline onto a pop-rock album. Not only were iconic songs such as “Ironic” and “You Learn” taken from the 1995 “Jagged Little Pill”, but older songs of Morissette’s were implemented as well. The creative team also worked together to write the original songs “Predator” and “Smiling.”
Show-stopping numbers are littered throughout the show. The opening number, featuring a mother-daughter duet of “All I Really Want” utilizes the lyrics of the song in order to effectively introduce and characterize the family. Specifically, the moment where the entire theater goes silent and the ensemble lays on the floor to represent victims of school shootings was able to fully grasp the audience’s attention. From then, it was only a matter of time until every seat in the house held fully captivated audience members.
Following numbers like “All I Really Want,” came songs “Ironic,” “That I Would Be Good” and “Hand in my Pocket” that established the romance onstage while relating to everyday difficulties and inner conflicts of the common teenager. Finally, at the midpoint of Act II, the long-awaited “You Oughta Know” featured Lauren Patten in a rage-fueled, powerhouse rock-ballad. After Patten finished her compelling solo number, she received a standing ovation – a custom usually saved until the performers bow in recognition of their talent.
Throughout the production, characters face life-changing decisions, actions and repercussions. All the while, ensemble members flood the stage as a representation of the character’s thoughts and emotions. The people other than the four leads take part in acting as supplementary roles and to show the audience the inner workings of different character’s consciences.
As a whole, the show “Jagged Little Pill” is made for 2019. The raw emotion and talent exhibited by the cast as a whole is extremely commendable as well as the message the show shares. Themes of inclusivity, passion and healing are shared through the show’s main characters. In all, this production is one that leaves audiences feeling empowered: a notion that is priceless.