New York Theater Review: If/Then

if then

If/Then

Official Description: IF/THEN is a contemporary musical that follows Elizabeth as she rebuilds her life in New York, a city of infinite possibilities.  By the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning creators of Next to Normal and starring Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel in her much-anticipated return to the stage, IF/THEN is an original new musical set at the intersection of choice and chance, where the road you take meets the road you didn’t.

My take: I saw a lot of theater this past weekend and this show might have been one of my favorites. The main reason is that it had a little bit of all the things that I like  (maybe not the best in all but a great combination). It has the great star with the amazing voice,  great original material, good music and pulls at your emotional heartstrings.

Clearly, the best part of the show was Idina. Her voice is amazing, and her 11 o’clock number, “Always Starting Over” , makes the price of admission worthwhile. However it was not only her voice that took it, she actually gives a really good performance, quite nuanced and with subtle hints as to the different characters she is playing without being to caricature. The rest of the cast is extremely talented as well. Anthony Rapp who i loved in Rent is although not spectacular, quite good as social activist Lucas. I think one of his songs was not really to his register, yet his second one fits him perfectly. LaChanze as Kate might be the best of the supporting characters, she has an amazing voice and stage presence to spare!

I read a lot of reviews that mentioned that following the two separate story lines was confusing. I did not find that at all. Apart from the good acting (and the glasses, nice touch!), a really helpful tool in this was the  great Lightning design. The Reds when it was Liz and Blue when it was Beth helped a lot in differentiating the story lines.  I also thought the set design was great. Not only was it beautiful but very functional. I loved how the apartment was set up, as well as the bridges.

The music is a big highlight of the show, the songs are cool and catchy. I’ve seen them criticized  for their simplicity but its what I enjoyed. They are great catchy tunes and I was humming them right out of the theater. I especially enjoyed, “Always Starting Over” , “What If “, “Here I Go” and I have to say I might make the song “What the Fuck” my new personal anthem.

There are things that are not perfect of couse, but all in all definitely a show to check out, especially with Idina still in it.

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