Review: “Jagged Little Pill” at Dr. Phillips

You live, you learn, you remember what it’s like to feel truly human…at “Jagged Little Pill”

When the album “Jagged Little Pill” was first released in 1995, I was in my thirties, raising two children in Minneapolis and growing increasingly out of touch with popular music. I think my last CD purchase was Counting Crows in 1993. I’m sure I was the only one in Minneapolis who didn’t own a copy of Morissette’s Grammy-winning album.

It would seem that every home in 1995 came with a fridge, dishwasher and copy of Alanis Morissette’s ubiquitous CD. It was a cultural touchstone, eventually selling over 30 million copies, and from the reaction at Dr. Phillips Center’s Walt Disney Theater on opening night, every audience member still has their own copy.

Cut to 2019, when “Jagged Little Pill” originally opened on Broadway, directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (“Waitress,” “Pippin,” “1776”), movement and choreographed by Sidi Labi Cherkaoui, music arranged by Tom Kitt with a Tony-winning book by Diablo Cody (“Juno”). Temporarily interrupted by Covid, the musical closed on Broadway December 2021, with the North American tour beginning on September 6, 2022.

If you’re like me and the extent of your Morissette knowledge is listening to “Ironic” on the car radio, never fear, this music runs deeper than your typical jukebox musical fare. The production breathes new life into each of Morissette’s songs, creating a memorable theatrical experience. For those familiar with the album, it’s like rediscovering an old friend.

Diablo Cody has crafted a compellingly complex storyline, including the seemingly perfect mom who is hiding an addiction to painkillers after a car accident. We have the workaholic dad who drinks too much and has a porn addiction that his wife secretly tracks. There’s the straight A son who has just been accepted to Harvard and the youngest daughter who is exploring her bisexuality with her girlfriend and boyfriend. It’s just your typical jagged little family.

The cast is superb, featuring a phenomenal Julie Reiber as Mary Jane Healy, the pill-popping, perfectionist mom and a powerful Teralin Jones as her daughter, Frankie. The two have outstanding voices and are in a majority of the musical numbers. Benjamin Eakeley as the neglected yet earnest husband and Dillon Klena as the over-achieving son create a nice balance, making the most of their time on stage. When Jade McLeod, who plays Frankie’s girlfriend Jo, sings the emotionally raw “You Oughta Know,” it practically stopped the show. Allison Sheppard deserves a mention for her raw portrayal as their friend Bella.

The company is strong, deserving of praise both vocally and for executing the riveting choreography. Riccardo Hernández’s Scenic Design, Justin Townsend’s Lighting Design and Lucy Mackinnon’s Video Design create an interesting set background. There were some technical issues on opening night that are sure to be fixed for future performances.

It’s an exhilarating and ultimately entertaining show about a perfectly imperfect family. Whether or not “Jagged Little Pill” was on your playlist in the 90s, this is a can’t-miss musical.

Now playing at Dr. Phillips Walt Disney Theater March 19-24, 2024.

For information and tickets Dr. Phillips

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Written by Michele Walker

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