Jagged Little Pill the Musical
On Broadway Spring 2019
Jagged Little Pill is a rock musical with a book by Academy Award winner Diablo Cody, music by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard and lyrics by Morissette. The musical is inspired by Morissette’s 1995 album of the same name. and received its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater in May 2018, directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus.
Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album Jagged Little Pill was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning five, including Album of the Year and remains one of the top-selling records in history, with over thirty-three million copies worldwide (fifteen million in the United States alone.) It was ranked by Rolling Stone at number 327 on its 2003 list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.
In November 2013, it was revealed that a musical adaption of the album was being adapted for the stage with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tom Kitt attached to arrange the orchestrations. A first workshop was expected to take place in 2014, however in 2015 Morissette revealed that the show was still in the early stages and had yet to be written. In May 2017, it was announced that the musical would receive its world premiere in May 2018, 23 years after the album was released. A reading took place in 2017, with Idina Menzel taking the part of Mary Jane. The first public performance of songs from the show took place in March 2018, at the American Repertory Theater Gala.
The show has a book by Oscar-winning Juno writer Diablo Cody, with direction by Diane Paulus, choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, set design by Riccardo Hernandez, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Justin Townsend, and video design by Finn Ross. Music and lyrics are by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, with musical direction by Bryan Perri, sound design by Jonathan Deans and orchestration by Tom Kitt. In addition to music from the show’s namesake album, there are other selections from Morissette’s catalog featured in the show, such as the Grammy-winning singles “Uninvited” and “Thank U”, and the lesser-known “That I Would Be Good” and “No”. Morissette also wrote two new songs for the musical, “Smiling” and “Predator”. (Despite it sharing the title and music with the album, it has no other connections to the album.)
Inspired by the themes and emotions from Morissette’s album, the musical Jagged Little Pill deals with pain, healing, and empowerment. The Healys—Mary Jane, Steve, and their teenage son and daughter Nick and Frankie—appear to be a picture-perfect suburban family. Mary Jane Healy (Elizabeth Stanley) is a mom obsessed with keeping it all together despite the fact that her life is spinning out of control. She secretly harbors an addiction to prescription pain pills, and her marriage to Steve (Sean Allan Krill) is distant and sexless. Her daughter, Frankie (Celia Gooding), who is adopted and the only black member of the family, feels alienated by the way her “colorblind” mother has diminished Frankie’s black identity. She is also exploring her burgeoning queerness with her best friend with benefits, Jo (Lauren Patten), who is genderqueer. Mary Jane’s son, Nick (Derek Klena), is dealing with the pressure of being the golden child of the family—which is complicated when his best friend, Andrew (Logan Hart) is accused of raping Frankie’s friend Bella (Kathryn Gallagher). When the Healys’ lives are disrupted by a series of disturbing events, they must face harsh truths about themselves, their community, and the world around them. In a New York Times feature story published on May 20, 2018, the show’s story “steeped in hot-button issues like opiate addiction, gender identity and sexual assault” was described as being “very much of the present, and may just be the most woke musical since Hair.”
Productions and Critical Reception
Jagged Little Pill began performances on May 5, 2018, at the Loeb Drama Center, within the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a limited run to July 15, 2018. Notable casting for the show included Elizabeth Stanley as Mary Jane, Derek Klena as Nick, Lauren Patten as Jo, Sean Allan Krill as Steve and Celia Gooding as Frankie.
The show opened in Cambridge to much critical acclaim, with The New York Times calling the show “Passionate, dramatically compelling, and big-hearted…Jagged Little Pill breaks the jukebox musical mold, and takes on the good work we are always asking new musicals to do: the work of singing about real things.” Bob Verini of Variety wrote, “Not since Rent has a musical invested so many bravura roles with so much individual life…It’s a risky business, making a musical not from a story demanding to be told but from a set of songs merely available to be used. Jagged Little Pill triumphantly avoids the pitfalls. Always engaging, often moving and even rousing, the show boasts dramatic interest and integrity on its own theatrical terms, courtesy of director Diane Paulus, first-time librettist Diablo Cody, and that peerless, soulful balladeer of the modern Western condition, Alanis Morissette.”
The show will premiere on Broadway in fall 2019. Casting for the Broadway production has not been announced yet, nor has a theater or premiere date.
2018 A.R.T. (Cambridge) production
|Character||Reading (2017)||Workshop (2017)||American Repertory Theater (2018)|
|Mary Jane “M.J.” Healy||Idina Menzel||Elizabeth Stanley|
|Steve Healy||Michael Park||Sean Allan Krill|
|Mary Frances “Frankie” Healy||Celia Gooding|
|Nick Healy||Derek Klena|
|Joanne “Jo”||Lauren Patten|
|Andrew Montefiore||Logan Hart|
|Bella Fox||Kathryn Gallagher|
Broadway 2019 cast TBA.
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