If/Then, the new musical from the team behind Next to Normal, is now playing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Idina Menzel stars as Elizabeth, a recently divorced urban planner moving to New York City for a fresh start. The plot splits into two separate, parallel storylines. In one, the heroine is called Lizzie and follows her heart, while in the other she’s known as Beth and focuses on her career. The music is by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, and direction by Michael Greif. All served in the same functions for Normal, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 and three Tony Awards in 2009. Also starring are Tony winner La Chanze (The Color Purple, Once on This Island), Anthony Rapp (Rent), James Snyder (Cry-Baby), Jerry Dixon (tick…tick…BOOM!), Jenn Colella (Chaplin), and Jason Tam (A Chorus Line). Here are five reasons to follow the dual paths of If/Then.
Idina Menzel raises the roof
The Tony-winning star of Wicked returns to Broadway with a mesmerizing performance as two different versions of the same woman. She runs the gamut of emotions from comic astonishment at sleeping with the wrong man to angrily debating with her absent husband who has been deployed overseas to bravely starting on a new path. In each of these soaring numbers and several others, her magnificent voice fills the Richard Rodgers Theater.
A diverse cast of characters
The supporting cast is equally vibrant portraying dual versions of the friends and lovers who have an impact on Elizabeth’s life. James Snyder makes for the perfect boyfriend as Josh. LaChanze is bubbly and brilliant as her lesbian neighbor Kate. Anthony Rapp gives subtle shadings to her bisexual former classmate Lucas. Jerry Dixon lends Stephen, Elizabeth’s narcissistic boss, dimension. Jenn Collela adds spice as Kate’s girlfriend Anne and Jason Tam is warmly genuine as Lucas’ partner David.
Spectacular staging by Michael Greif
Greif, who directed Menzel and Rapp in the original production of Rent, delivers a stunning staging, conveying both stories without confusing the audience.
An unexpected story with an original score
So many Broadway shows are based on movies or employ the songs of popular recording artists. If/Then is a rarity, a musical with a totally original score and story about characters who are living now. Brian Yorkey’s book is sharply funny and heartbreakingly human while the score featuring Yorkey’s lyrics and Tom Kitt’s music illuminates Elizabeth’s journey with wit and unforgettable melodies.
A portrait of New York
Mark Wendeland’s versatile, two-tiered set, Emily Rebholz’s contemporary costumes, and Kenneth Posner’s evocative lighting paint a detailed and fascinating picture of New York which will draw in veteran Gothamites and visitors alike.