There were a whole lot of jagged little identities being explored on stage at Jagged Little Pill, on Broadway now. The show opens this evening and I hope each and every talent associated with this production is richly rewarded by the reviewers for bringing this tour de force production to life. But I don’t do reviews I unpack experiences, and this show provides an experience on an umpteen amount of levels.
I think Mary Jane Healy, the mother in Jagged Little Pill, would have greatly benefited from being in this theater group we call Grab Your Group and GO. Starved for connection in her isolated and lonely suburban existence where her one regular connection is a guy on a skateboard feeding her addiction in an alley. By striving to do everything so perfectly, things go very wrong for our heroine Mary Jane. She fiercely fights the unwinnable battle of trying to prevent the fissures of cracks from crumbling her perfect suburban existence. Via this storyline, all sorts of jagged little identities are explored on stage with a powerhouse ensemble cast that weaves the many other storylines together via the absolutely crushing lyrics of Alanis Morrissette’s many musical contributions to our 1990’s soundtrack. So many contributions!!
Let’s consider the identity of the Grab Your Group and GO audience: 66 “Mom’s” (among other things) and 4 “Dad’s” (among other things). How interesting to experience a show – as a mom with other moms – about a mom’s downward spiral while listening to anthem-like words from important and searing songs from 24 years ago while also revisiting memories and emotions we may or may not want to re-visit from high school through all that transpires on stage.
How interesting that the words to Alanis’s music (masterfully re-mixed and woven together by the marvel that is Tom Kitt) that we belted out in our cars or in the shower or at home in front of the mirror are as relevant today as they were circa 1995. Who didn’t want to call that ex-boyfriend and launch these sneering and embittered and insincere words “I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner…” through the airwaves of our landline. Way to bring down the house Lauren Patten, playing Jo, with that exponentially powerful solo of You Oughta Know. You literally killed it and got a richly deserved mid-show standing ovation to prove it (this impromptu groundswell of audience admiration in the form of standing O for Jo happens every single night I am told).
What an evening at the theater. How grateful was I to be there literally enveloped by a friend group sharing a similar although completely personal experience right next to, in front of and behind me.
If Mary Jane were there with us (we could easily insert her into this photo) I think she would have found the show enlightening, healing, and empowering. (She would also have been very impressed by her singing – what a talent! A ridiculous and inspiring array of talent on that stage!).
Shows like Jagged Little Pill that go granular exploring stories, and themes, and identities are why we go to the theater to learn just a little bit more about ourselves and others. Or better summarized by Alanis: “You live you learn, you love you learn, you cry you learn, you lose you learn, you bleed you learn, you scream you learn…” You go to the theater, you learn. It is as simple and as powerful as that.
If you are an Alanis fan or a human you should Grab Your Group and GO too. I am particularly excited to bring my teenagers, husband and 50 other people in the group back to this show… in January. Until then, everyone in Jagged Little Pill – thank you!
New Favorite Restaurant Alert: Finding a place to eat in Times Square can be a challenge. I don’t blame the restaurants that churn and burn tourists like a popular past time – they don’t have the bandwidth to make things personal. The Public House in The Merrion Row Hotel is not that type of restaurant. They greet you – with lots of smiles. They seem to be sincerely happy to be hosting you. They check on you regularly and with their variety of spaces are able to accommodate you when you try to think outside the dinner box like we did at the meal before Jagged Little Pill.
Our dinner was part cocktail party/part dinner party in a warm and convivial setting with really good food that matched the tone of the evening. And they hug you when you leave. What!?? It is like a little restaurant oasis in a sea of impersonal choices. Absolutely grab whatever configuration of a group you’ve got and go – this group will be going back. Often. Because when you find a friend like that in the form of a restaurant you hold on tight.
Sidenote: I don’t love posting meal gathering shots for fear of making people feel left out. But as I cast out an invite to 500 people to join for the show (to which 70 said yes) and then proceeded to invite all 70 people to dinner (a perilous moment), I feel that I was just about as inclusive as a person could be. 🙂 Here are the people that turned up (+MK and Joni who arrived just a few minutes later). I am pretty sure they were all pretty darn happy about it. I know I was. Thanks GROUP! Linda