The Broadway Review: If/Then

Date Seen: Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Seating: Row F (6th row) Mezzanine
Cost of Ticket: $5
Ticket Source: Pace University Honors College
Rating: One Thumb Up
A contemporary new musical set where choice and chance collide.
Tony Award Winner Idina Menzel stars as Elizabeth, a woman rebuilding her life in New York City, where she discovers a world of infinite possibilities.
Fate and free will. Destiny and design. In one moment, Elizabeth will lead parallel lives.
This is the story of both.

 ~*~The Journey to the Tickets~*~

I wish I had some exciting tale for this part like I did with ONCE and many of my other shows, but the truth is that my tickets to IF/THEN conveniently fell into my lap at the proper time. I attend Pace University as an Honors College student and I take great pride in that. I'm heavily involved with the Honors College and I'm friends with the head of the college, the honors academic adviser, the project coordinator, and the three student aides. They're my extended family by default, you see.

The Honors College is given a certain stipend every year in order to provide discounted opportunities for Honors students, whether it be ice skating or seeing one Broadway show per semester. Last semester's Broadway show was BIG FISH, which I happily attended, and this semester's show just happened to be IF/THEN. You bet I e-mailed like hell to get myself on this ticket list and I'm happy to say I was able to enjoy the show with friends.

Moral of this story? If you want to go to college in New York City and have very good grades, come to Pace University where you can join the Honors College and get to see a Broadway show each semester for five dollars. Oh, and the people are pretty damn awesome too. ;)

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

To put it bluntly, this is not the show that I was expecting. However, I saw this show while it is still in previews, so that means there is a lot to change. For example, the day I saw it they happened to add in a brand new scene for the very first time and a few days after I saw it they completely changed the opening number. With all things still being ironed out, the show can definitely get better. But I stand by my assertion that the show isn't worth seeing if you have to pay more then fifty dollars to see it. I also know that I'm not alone in that opinion. To change this opinion you would need a serious script re-write.

I was sitting between my friend Jaclyn (who got me this wonderful ticket) and my friend James. Look at the adorableness that is James and I below.
He's pretty damn awesome and he knows it.
But it quickly became apparent to all three of us that this was a little too similar to RENT. Depressing and with all the same crowd-pleasers (lesbians, gays, and inter-racial couples), it was lacking a bit in originality. The three of us, I quickly discovered, are emotive showgoers and when all three of us reacted in the same way, you know something was wrong. Let me explain:

1. Le Gasp.
There's a certain moment in the play that was written in with poor taste. The musical number accompanying this moment was brilliant, but the actual moment had all three of us gaping like fish because it was shocking and unexpected. I really would write it out (and to my knowledge it is still there which pisses me off).

2. Le What.
Basically, the musical is a double life musical with Idina in the lead role. Her name is Elizabeth so the two separate lives are differentiated by her character being named either Liz or Beth. One of them wears glasses (don't ask me which because I seriously got lost) and you can guess that there is a character change because Idina suddenly has the same exact outfit on but with a different jacket. Each girl has a different love interest, except one of them (Beth, I think) actually has two even though one of them is so off the charts that we know he isn't a serious contender. And the love interest from the other persona suddenly becomes someone else when she's not in that persona so there's, like, ten different couples going on in this show. Apparently there was a difference in the lighting background color to help us figure out what character we are currently watching, but that didn't help at times. Actually, it was useless most of the time.

3. Le Laughter.
I just wasn't impressed with anything...There were certain scenes that were well-done, but not enough to leave a lasting impression. What I will say is that the show is pretty funny, though the humor is geared towards an older audience. And furthermore, a lot of it is geared towards New Yorkers. I found myself laughing often, but a few rows in front of us there were some people that never really got the joke, and that's how I easily picked out the tourists with James.

4. Le Yay!
Idina belted...for half a song! Not exactly what I was expecting out of her, but at least I can say I saw Idina Menzel in a lead role before she leaves Broadway. Unfortunately, she can't be in too many more shows, you know?

5. Le Ughhhhhh.
I'm just going to say this...the show is depressing. The ending is interesting, but some viewers and myself agree that this is not a show a middle-aged audience will see. It's got some serious mid-life crisis woes in it and they're out of this world depressing. They depressed me. A lot. I can't imagine watching this show as a viewer who may be at risk of experiencing some of these moments as I watch instead of in my past or later in life. Just agh, if you want a happy show this is not for you at all.

My one biggest complaint about this show is the way they cast it. Obviously Idina is the lead, the universe in this show literally centers around her. And then from there we have the ensemble and then everyone else. See, everyone else in the show that is important enough for us to actually know their name is just everyone else. They're all beneath Idina. And then beneath them are the few ensemble members (who are clearly understudies to most of the leads) that'll shine when they get the chance. Until then, they dance and walk in the background at the park, harmonize, and occasionally get their own line in a song. Since Idina isn't what a lot of people expect (though I promise huge fangirls will be satisfied) the show just wasn't as big and powerful as it could be. 

After the show I was able to get the main casts autographs. At one point in time I was a mere two feet away from Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, and LaChanze while they signed my playbill. It was absolutely marvelous. There was a fainting episode with a friend of mine and I discovered I'm secretly a superhero because I somehow managed to make sure she didn't crack her head on concrete while I went into shock because that was actually happening. I was shaking a solid twenty minutes after guys, it's like it was all in slow motion. All in all, a very eventful night. One thumb up for originality and laughter, though it did not leave a lasting impression and I can only describe its current showing as satisfactory. I can't see this show continuing on once Idina leaves. She is what makes it, and even then she wasn't what I thought she would be. I'm choosing to clear away certain moments in this show so that she will always be wickedly frozen in my mind. See what I did there? har har

To learn more about IF/THEN, check out the musical's official website here!

To read my first Broadway Review of ONCE, click here!

Please note: this is a new feature dependent on audience feedback about whether you want me to continue it or not.

2 comments:

  1. It's a bummer that this one isn't amazing. I adore Idina and so I feel like I'd be one of those fangirls, but I also like to tell it how it is, so I don't know what I would think. It seems like this show is just really confusing and sadly no one likes a confusing musical. Also, I wanna know what that shocking moment was...

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    1. You pretty much hit the nail on the head with this observation. And I shall text you now!

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