By Jacqueline Parker
November 10, 2022
It’s safe to say that 1995 was a banner year for Alanis Morissette. Her third album, Jagged Little Pill, was released to critical acclaim, garnering five Grammy wins, including Album of the Year. Its angsty post-grunge sound and messages of heartache, female sexuality and self-discovery resonated with audiences everywhere. Nearly 30 years later, it’s one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Pulling from the album’s themes, the eponymous stage production brings Morissette’s music to life in narrative form. Jagged Little Pill premiered in 2018 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and had a stint on Broadway from 2019 to 2021 before the pandemic forced the performance to halt in December 2021 after only 171 performances. The pause didn’t stop the show’s momentum (it was nominated for 15 Tony Awards following the debut) or its emotional impact on audiences.
Jagged Little Pill stars Broadway actress Heidi Blickenstaff (Something Rotten!) as Mary Jane (MJ) Healy, a woman struggling with addiction and a rocky marriage. Blickenstaff is joined onstage by Chris Hoch (MJ’s husband, Steve) with Lauren Chanel and Dillon Klena as her children (Frankie and Nick), all of whom have struggles of their own. Jade McLeod and Allison Sheppard round out the main cast as Jo and Bella, respectively.
With a playbook by Tony Award-winning writer, Diablo Cody, and direction by Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Waitress), audiences can expect to hear many of their favorite Morissette songs, including “Thank U” and “Hands Clean,” from later albums. Morissette’s co-writer and producer of the Jagged Little Pill album, Glen Ballard, also had a hand in music for the show, and all but three songs are written by the duo. Ballard is a heavy hitter in the industry, having worked with Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, Paula Abdul, Stevie Nicks and many others, on everything from albums to music videos to film. Morissette and Ballard’s music is orchestrated by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) with choreography by Belgian-Moroccan dancer Sidi Larbi Cherkauoi.
For some, the music will evoke a sense of nostalgia; the album was pivotal back in the ‘90s and songs like “Ironic” and “You Oughta Know” were canon for angsty, grunge-pop girls. For others— particularly younger audiences— the songs might hold a hint of familiarity but won’t deter them from enjoying the production.
Paired with Cody’s writing, Morissette’s songs pull at the heartstrings in a whole new way. Perhaps best known for Juno and United States of Tara, Cody’s writing often encapsulates the human condition in evocative, heart-rending ways and Jagged is no exception. Looking at the life of a typical American family, the musical gets to the core of what it means to be human in an ever-changing world.
With a tagline like “Some shows you see. This show you feel,” Jagged Little Pill might hit a little close to home for some. Tackling a myriad of hot-button topics, from sexual assault and gender identity to drug addiction and peer pressure, Jagged Little Pill offers up subject matter that’s relatable and relevant. Honest and affective, the audience is meant to share the experiences with the characters– not simply watch them from afar.
Jagged Little Pill runs from Thursday, November 29 to Sunday, December 4 at Belk Theater. Tickets start at $25 and you can receive 25% off (sections PZ10, PZ20 and PZ30) using this special CLTure promo link.
Tuesday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, November 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 2 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 3 at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 3 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 4 at 1:30 p. m.
Sunday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m.
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