If/Then is a musical with a libretto by Brian Yorkey and a theatrical score by Tom Kitt, directed by Michael Greif. It tells the story of a 38-year-old woman named Elizabeth who moves back to New York City for a fresh start.
If/Then began previews on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 5, 2014, opened on March 30, 2014, and closed on March 22, 2015, a total of 401 performances and 29 previews. The cast recording was released by Masterworks Broadway on June 3, 2014, and debuted at number 19 on the Billboard 200, the highest-charting Broadway cast recording since the cast recording of Rent was released in 1996.
If/Then started its national tour in Denver, Colorado on October 13, 2015. On January 27th, 2016, Jackie Burns replaced Idina Menzel as Elizabeth for the remainder of the tour.
After a developmental lab in April 2013, featuring Idina Menzel and directed by Michael Greif, If/Then staged an out-of-town tryout at the National Theatre, Washington, D.C. from November 5 to December 8, 2013. The musical began previews on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 5, 2014 and officially opened on March 30. The Broadway production is directed by Greif, with choreography by Larry Keigwin, sets by Mark Wendland, costumes by Emily Rebholz, lighting by Kenneth Posner, and orchestrations by Michael Starobin. The original cast includes Menzel as Elizabeth, LaChanze as Kate, James Snyder as Josh, and Anthony Rapp as Lucas, along with Tamika Sonja Lawrence, Jenn Colella, Jerry Dixon, and Jason Tam. A national tour, with Menzel again in the starring role, began in Denver in October 2015. While the show was on Broadway, James Snyder hosted a Broadway.com vlog titled Hey Kid showing what went on backstage. The series was originally expected to run for an eight episode single season, but was extended to 12 episodes due to popularity, before being extended again. It ended up running for three seasons, or 24 episodes, making it one of the longest running Broadway.com vlogs ever.
Newly divorced 38-year-old Elizabeth, an urban planner, moves to New York City for a fresh start. She meets her friends Kate, a kindergarten teacher, and Lucas, a community organizer, in Madison Square Park. Kate suggests that Elizabeth start using the name “Liz” and seek out new experiences. Lucas suggests that she go back to her college nickname, “Beth,” and start making professional connections in the city. The musical then shows both possibilities playing out. “Liz” stays in the park with Kate while “Beth” leaves with Lucas, and the remainder of the show depicts two paths that Elizabeth’s life could take. (“Prologue/What If”)
Liz hears her phone ring, but she doesn’t take the call. Instead, Kate and Liz stop to listen to a musician in the park. Josh, an Army doctor returning from his second tour of duty, approaches Liz but she politely rebuffs him. Later, joined by Kate’s girlfriend Anne, they encounter Josh again on the subway and Kate convinces Liz to take his number. (“It’s a Sign”) But, she only agrees to a date after a third encounter in the park (where Josh later admits he started spending more time in hopes of seeing her). (“You Never Know”) Josh and Liz go on several dates, and ultimately they end up back at Liz’s apartment where she contemplates the implications of sleeping with him. (“What the Fuck”) After sleeping with him, Josh declares that he wants to have a relationship with Liz. She isn’t sure if it’s the right thing to do, but she decides to take a risk. (“Here I Go”) Liz later gets in touch with an old friend, Stephen, who works in the city planner’s office. His deputy position was recently filled, but he recommends her for a professorship and she gets the job. Josh introduces his best friend David to Lucas, and they become a couple. After Josh and Liz have been dating for a few months, Liz becomes pregnant. Her friend Kate also decides to marry her longtime girlfriend Anne. (“Surprise”) Liz decides to marry Josh and have the baby. (“This Day/Walking by a Wedding”) Josh is thrilled and overwhelmed to welcome his first son to the world. (“Hey, Kid”) Lucas is hesitant to commit to life with David, but David convinces him to stop hesitating. They get married and later adopt a son. (“Best Worst Mistake”) Liz and Josh have a second son, and Liz begs Josh to skip an offer to do a third tour overseas, and he does. Several years later, Josh receives another request to return overseas, and he cannot refuse. He ships out, and is shortly after killed in the line of duty. (“I Hate You”) A despondent Liz is devastated she has to learn to live without Josh. (“Learn to Live Without”) Liz relies heavily on her friends to cope with her loss, but she ultimately comes to terms with life without Josh. (“What Would You Do”/”Always Starting Over”) She decides to leave her teaching position. Kate and Anne divorce after Anne is unfaithful. Stephen asks Liz to come work for him on a major new development project in midtown Manhattan, and she accepts. (“What If? (Reprise)”)
Beth takes a phone call while with Lucas. The phone call is from her old colleague Stephen, who meets with her the next day to discuss her becoming the city’s deputy urban planner. Beth considers the offer and ends up accepting the deputy position that puts her in charge of that project. (“A Map of New York”) Lucas and Beth attend Lucas’ protest against a development project, where Lucas criticizes Beth for selling out. (“Ain’t No Man Manhattan”) Beth gets Lucas to drop his objections by using her new connections to get his book published. Beth and Stephen become close, and Beth eventually kisses him but he leaves to be with his wife. (“What the Fuck”) Beth calls Lucas, and they spend the night together. Beth doesn’t want to have a relationship with Lucas, but he tries to convince her to continue their courtship. (“You Don’t Need to Love Me”) Beth questions whether she has made the right decisions with her life, including sleeping with Lucas. (“No More Wasted Time”) Beth becomes pregnant but does not tell Lucas. Her friend Kate also decides to marry her longtime girlfriend Anne. (“Surprise”) Without consulting him, she has an abortion; as a result, he doesn’t talk to her for two years. She contemplates how her choices have left her alone. (“This Day/Walking by a Wedding”) Beth wins awards for her work and Lucas becomes a noted activist. Beth takes on a young protege, Elena; Beth is critical of Elena’s eventual decision to leave her job to follow her husband and start a family. She again contemplates how she has built a single life for herself. (“You Learn to Live Without”) After a near-death experience during a business trip (“The Moment Explodes”), Beth calls Lucas and reconciles their friendship. (“Some Other Me”) Kate and Anne marry, but later plan to divorce after Anne is unfaithful. Beth convinces them not to by reminding them that life is short. (“Love While You Can”) Stephen, now divorced, tells Beth he regrets rejecting her advances years earlier, and he invites her to work for him in the state government. (“A Map of New York (Reprise)”) She turns him down, opting to stay in New York City to run for the city council. When Beth meets Lucas and Kate in the park for coffee, she meets an Army doctor named Josh who has just returned home from his third tour of duty. He approaches her and she lets him buy her a coffee. (“What If? (Reprise)”)
† In the pre-Broadway production, this song is not performed; instead, “The Story of Dick and Jane”, was performed by Kate and company
‡ In the pre-Broadway production, this song is moved and performed between “This Day / Walking By A Wedding” and “Hey Kid”
* In the pre-Broadway production, this song is not performed; instead, a different version of “No More Wasted Time”, was performed by Kate and Anne
|Role||Original Broadway Cast||First National Tour|
|Elizabeth Vaughan||Idina Menzel||Jackie Burns|
|Josh Barton||James Snyder||Matthew Hydzik|
|Stephen||Jerry Dixon||Daren A. Herbert|
|Anne||Jenn Colella||Janine DiVita|
|David||Jason Tam||Marc de la Cruz|
|Elena||Tamika Lawrence||Kyra Faith|
|Deputy Mayor and others||Joe Cassidy||Corey Greenan|
|A Bartender and others||Miguel Cervantes||Cliffton Hall|
|A Soldier and others||Curtis Holbrook||Xavier Cano|
|A Flight Attendant and others||Stephanie Klemons||Alicia Taylor Tomasko|
|A Street Musician and others||Tyler McGee|
|Paulette and others||Ryann Redmond||English Bernhardt|
|An Architect and others||Joe Aaron Reid|
|Cathy and others||Ann Sanders||Deedee Magno Hall|
|Standby Elizabeth||Jackie Burns||Janine DiVita|
|Swing||Charles Hagerty||Charissa Bertels|
|Marc de la Cruz||Trey Ellett|
|Janet Krupin||Joseph Morales|
|Megan Lewis||Emily Rogers|
While at the National Theatre, Peter Marks, reviewing for The Washington Post praised Menzel, calling her “an earthy star with heavenly pipes” but said the play makes “it difficult to determine at any given moment which of the stories of Elizabeth’s fate we’re in”. Marks noted that the show has the ingredients that it needs for success: “It’s a winning blob, and it provides a lot of engaging elements, from Mark Wendland’s becoming minimalist set, with rotating skeletons of city apartments and handsome retractable fire escapes, to Emily Rebholz’s sleek and taste-drenched costumes. The score — a far sunnier composition than the songwriters worked out for their Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about mental illness, ‘Next to Normal’ — gives Tony-winner Menzel the power ballads in which her fans from ‘Wicked’ and ‘Rent’ will exult.”
The Broadway production received primarily mixed reviews, with the consensus being that the cast shone, but the score and book were still unclear. Ben Brantley of The New York Times gave a mixed review but stated that Idina Menzel “brings an anxious intensity to a featherweight part”. Mark Kennedy of ABC News said, “An uneven — maybe not completely finished — show opened Sunday at the Richard Rodgers Theatre with an intriguing, ambitious premise and a leading lady with a shockingly good voice, but a clumsy story and too few impressive songs”. Peter Marks of The Washington Post summed up his review with, “If/Then is an enjoyable, beautifully sung, at times deeply touching experience, built on a structure that never completely works.” Robert Hofler of The Wrap gave an optimistic review, comparing the show’s non-traditional structure to Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Company’ saying “Today, audiences seeing those classic shows understand perfectly what’s going on. Audiences seeing them in the original productions – take it from me – were very confused and exasperated” and that “…it’s an intriguing book, but one that Yorkey might tinker with beyond opening night, just as the books of “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Follies” went through many revisions after their respective Broadway premieres. In other words, see “If/Then” now so you can have the fun of making comparisons to its future revivals, of which there will be many”. Elysa Gardner of USA Today was positive, writing, “Yorkey’s book and lyrics match the probing compassion of Normal without indulging in that show’s preciousness. The characters here are more accessible and likable, from James Snyder’s rugged but tender Josh to Anthony Rapp’s wry Lucas, Elizabeth’s longtime friend. LaChanze brings infectious verve to the role of Kate, a lesbian schoolteacher who evolves from a stock comic-buddy type into a compelling individual. As for the leading lady, Menzel seems both grounded and energized by the opportunity to play a grownup who learns that there really are no ever-afters. There is poignance in that discovery, but a sense of liberation as well, and If/Then captures both to moving, invigorating effect.”
Despite mixed reviews, the show enjoyed strong box-office returns. During its first full week of performances, the show debuted in the top 10 with $931,268. The show was highlighted by Entertainment Weekly as one of the hits of the 2013-2014 season. By the last week of April the show was playing to over 97% capacity and was noted as one of the two highest-grossing new musicals. In May, If/Then was noted by Variety as being one of “the spring openers that have shown box office strength all along,” and was still bringing in over a million dollars at the box-office every week. Also in May, Deadline Hollywood highlighted the fact that If/Then was defying the odds as one of the few original musicals to perform strongly in recent years, with most original musicals only lasting around a month. Deadline.com went on to comment on the strength of Menzel’s name and fan-base as being behind the show’s financial success. Nevertheless, the production likely closed at a loss.
Awards and Nominations
|2014||Tony Award||Best Original Score||Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey||Nominated|
|Best Lead Actress in a Musical||Idina Menzel||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Orchestrations||Michael Starobin||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway)||Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey||Nominated|
|Drama League Award||Distinguished Performance||Idina Menzel||Nominated|
|Broadway.com Audience Award||Favorite New Song||Always Starting Over||Nominated|
|Here I Go||Won|
|Favorite New Musical||Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey||Won|
|Favorite Diva Performance||Idina Menzel||Nominated|
|Favorite Lead Actress in a Musical||Won|
|Favorite Onstage Pair||Idina Menzel and James Snyder||Won|
|Favorite Featured Actor in a Musical||James Snyder||Nominated|
|Favorite Featured Actress in a Musical||LaChanze||Won|
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- BWW News Desk. “IF/THEN Cast Album Tracklist Announced; Release Set for 6/3” Broadway World, April 16, 2014
- Keith Caulfield. “Idina Menzel’s ‘If/Then’ Scores Show-Stopping Chart Debut” Billboard, June 11, 2014
- “Starting Over, Again! Idina Menzel Will Launch The National Tour of If/Then”. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
- “Jackie Burns wows in thoughtful ‘If/Then’ national tour”.
- Hetrick, Adam. “Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey Broadway Musical ‘If/Then’ Will Get NYC Lab Presentation” playbill.com, March 7, 2013
- Hetrick, Adam. “Pre-Broadway Premiere of ‘If/Then’, Starring Menzel, Opens Nov. 24 in Washington, DC” playbill.com, November 24, 2013
- “Miguel Cervantes, Curtis Holbrook, Ryann Redmond Join Broadway’s ‘If/Then’; Complete Cast and Creative Team Announced” playbill.com, August 27, 2013
- Giola, M (May 7, 2015). Starting Over, Again! Idina Menzel Will Launch The National Tour of If/Then. Playbill. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
- “Eagerly awaited musical ‘If/Then’ is a winning blob, with many kinks to be worked out”. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
- Marks, Peter. “Eagerly awaited musical ‘If/Then’ is a winning blob, with many kinks to be worked out” The Washington Post, accessed March 1, 2014
- Brantley, Ben.“Theater review.” The New York Times, March 30, 2014
- Kennedy, Mark.“Review” abcnews.go.com
- Marks, Peter.“Review” washingtonpost.com
- Hofler, Robert. “‘If/Then’ Theater Review” thewrap.com
- Gardner, Elysa. “Idina Menzel embraces reality in ‘If/Then'” usatoday.com
- “‘If/Then’ Opens Well at the Box Office”. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- “Broadway box office: Denzel Washington’s ‘Raisin in the Sun’ is season’s biggest hit”. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- “Growing Sales for Beautiful and Rocky on Broadway”. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- “Broadway Box-Office Analysis, April 14–20: If/Then, Lady Day and More Boast Almost-Full Audiences”. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Cox, Gordon. “Broadway Box Office: The Street Sticks to Its Guns Against TV Upfronts and ‘Godzilla’” variety.com
- Gerard, Jeremy. “Broadway B.O.: Idina Menzel’s Star Power; Fred Zollo’s Photographic Memory” deadline.com
- BroadwayBrain.com “History of Recoups” Retrieved 2015-11-02
- Gans, Andrew. “68th Annual Tony Awards Nominations Announced; ‘Gentleman’s Guide’ Leads the Pack” Archived 2014-05-30 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, April 29, 2014
- Gans, Andrew. “2014 Annual Drama Desk Awards Nominations Announced; ‘Gentleman’s Guide’ Earns 12 Nominations” playbill.com, April 25, 2014
- “Outer Critics Circle 2013-14 Season” outercritics.org, May 12, 2014
- “Denzel, Daniel, Neil among Drama League Award nominees”. Retrieved April 23, 2014.