By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
If it is possible to be highly entertained by a Broadway musical that addresses so many of society’s ills then ‘A Jagged Little Pill’ is just the remedy that makes that happen. It’s like experiencing a substance that doesn’t make it all go away but rather makes one take a deeper look at themselves and the world around them in a way that gives them hope moving forward with their lives. (see a sneak peak video below)
Everyone is going through something in their lives at any given moment, . a Jagged Little Pill gives the audience the opportunity to relate to and see those issues that may be affecting them, their family, friends or all of the above.
From women’s and gay rights to racism, drug addiction, sexual harassment, climate change and just about everything else afflicting society, there is something for everyone to relate to. Yet, A Jagged Little Pill allows the audience to believe that there is a resolution for many of those problems. They just need to take that reality check and make the effort towards change not just in their own lives but in their communities and the world.
‘A Jagged Little Pill’ is about a seemingly perfect American family, the Healys. A hard working dad, the mother that is the envy of her friends and community, the son who has just been accepted to a top ivy league school and the activist adopted teenage daughter who just happens to be black. Never mind the family has no black friends.
But everything is not as rosy as it looks from the outside. The dad is never home, the mom has become addicted to opioids after a car accident, the son has witnessed a rape by his friend and did nothing to stop it and the 15 year old daughter is bisexual with resentment towards her adoptive and controlling parents. The parents don’t listen or understand each other much less their children. The marriage is failing, the kids don’t see their parents as real people but rather as authority figures who are just in the way of their own life’s path.
The daughter, Frankie, played by Lauren Chanel has a girlfriend, then a boyfriend but her real passion is women’s rights. She carries a “Does My Period Offend You?” sign advocating for tampons and other feminine needs to be available at schools at no charge. But when a class mate is raped at a wild drunken party her advocacy ramps up to a real social movement. Her brother witnessed the rape, did nothing to stop it and must now deal with the guilt. No one listens to or believes the victim but when the Frankie’s brother steps up to tell authorities what he witnessed, now the victim has credibility. “Why do they listen to you and not to me.” she cries.
Meanwhile, her mom, “Mary Jane Healy,”played by Heidi Blickenstaff, is in denial. When she learns of the rape she wants her kids to stay out of it, say or do nothing. She is afraid what it may do to their futures. She knows what it did to hers. Meanwhile, the dad is nowhere to be found.
I have to admit I was more than a bit apprehensive about seeing a Broadway musical production about so many of society ills. I have a hard time watching the News anymore. The cast was amazing, the production electrifying. I have rarely seen standing ovations during a performance, but the powerful performances by the cast evoked several ovations during the opening night performance.
Yes, I recommend this show for everyone, with the exception of young children, teenagers definitely. It does not matter what race, culture, sexual orientation or financial background you come from, A Jagged Little Pill is an easy swallow and a very entertaining reality check that will make you feel hopeful about the world we live in while taking stock of your own situation.
The production features songs by Alanis Morissette’s Grammy-winning album. Jagged Little Pill, which takes its name from Morissette’s 1995 album and features the award-winning book by Diablo Cody. At the 2020 Tony Awards, Jagged Little Pill led with 15 nominations. The musical won two Tony Awards, with Diablo Cody winning for Best Book of a Musical.
A Jagged Little Pill plays the Buell Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through August 27, 2023.