Sunday, January 17, 2016

theatre review - IF/THEN - National Tour / ASU Gammage - January 12, 2016

Idina Menzel
photo: Joan Marcus
Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 17th.

"...Almost everyone has wondered what might have happened if they'd made a different decision in their past. Would their life end up better or worse based on that choice? If/Then shows the results of different decisions in one woman's life. ...In one story, based on missing a phone call about a dream job, she ends up finding love, while in the other, having taken the phone call, she ends up following her professional calling but sacrificing romance. Using mainly just a pair of glasses to signify when she is Liz (wearing the glasses), who meets the Army doctor Josh who has just returned from overseas, and when she is Beth (not wearing the glasses), who takes a high level job working for New York's urban development projects, the plot moves back and forth from one storyline to the next. Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt..have crafted an interesting and original story, though it does get somewhat confusing and convoluted. ..the power ballads wear thin after awhile and a few of the songs are completely forgettable. Also, the fact that in one story the character of Lucas, played by Anthony Rapp, is gay, while in the other he is straight, seems to be a plot device that is completely unrealistic (why would a decision that Elizabeth makes change the sexuality of another character in her life?). ...Menzel's earthy voice and intense focus on her character(s) work well to elevate the story into one where you care for her and the other people in the lives of Liz and Beth. LaChanze is a firecracker of sass and spunk, with a voice like Menzel's that soars to the rafters and beyond...Director Michael Greif ingeniously stages the action on Mark Wendland's almost constantly moving set design...Only Larry Keigwin's choreography is a bit unfocused ...While the end result of If/Then may be somewhat confusing, the powerhouse vocals of Menzel and the addition of her Broadway co-stars on the tour make this an intriguing journey to take. It will also most likely give you plenty to talk about afterwards—even if it is just trying to clarify the various plot points with your fellow, and most likely slightly confused, theatregoers."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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