Famed artist Alanis Morissette’s 1995 record Jagged Little Pill became a Broadway musical on December 5, 2019, according to Playbill. Jagged Little Pill was nominated for 15 Tony Awards, winning two in 2021. The cast recording has also won a Grammy Award. Jagged Little Pill the Musical will be at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music until January 15.
The invited opening on January 4 was a full house. This touring company had a passionate cast who gave it their all. Standouts were an amazing Heidi Blickenstaff as snide, perfectionistic, opioid addict Mary Jane Healy, estranged wife to workaholic Steve Healy played with excellence by Chris Hoch. Dillon Klena was the hapless son Nick Healy, often the brunt of many insults from his female friends and family. A good kid who studied hard and never went to parties went once to what turned out to be an unchaperoned and illegal party for underage kids who drank and did drugs to universal stupor. This one time could have destroyed his future. The adopted daughter Frankie was played by Lauren Chanel. Frankie had multiple issues about being Black in a White household, being an actively sexual lesbian at age 16, then dropping her lover in favor of a straight teenage boy. She later blamed her brother several times for not stopping the intercourse in a dark room, he not sure if it was statutory rape.
The title comes from a line from the album Jagged Little Pill, “Swallow it down, what a jagged little pill …it feels so good, swimming in your stomach.” Morissette here is speaking about swallowed semen, as well as something which must be borne in silence. Jagged Little Pill the Musical has been called a masterpiece of the Jukebox Musical. It’s themes deal with opioid addiction, child lesbian sex, heterosexual sex between minors, statutory rape, teen drug experimentation and alcoholism, a complete absence of gay characters, adult overestimation of their child’s ability to cope, allowing kids too much freedom without the benefit of respnsible adult involvement, mixed-race adoption, festering racial hatred between child and parents, numerous instances of self-absorption and narcisissism, the American obsession with money, hard work, and success, and prevailing misandry.
At close to three hours, the musical had plenty of time to interpolate scenes which were then followed by musical numbers with loud volume, indistinct lyrics, and choreography which after the 10th viewing was all too monotonous. One audience member of a certain age was heard to say, “An intermission? You mean there’s still more?”
A comment by the venue states there are multiple issues in the musical which may “trigger” audience members. It is advised that no one under age 14 attend due to the overwhelmingly adult themes.
Jagged Little Pill the Musical is an absolute must experience for fans of Alanis Morissette and her music, and a potent celebration of women and woke sensibility. Jagged Little Pill the Musical is a bold, visceral interrogation of the incompatibility of the sexes, and a cogent indictment of life in the early twenty-first century.
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