a brief opinion
First, my opinion:
Last night I went to see the show “If/Then” with Idina Menzel, with my housemate Sloan. Originally it was a gift to Boyfriend Jenn, but she was sick in Jersey. So Sloan and I went.
It was not amazing. There were a few moments, a few lines, a few lyrics that would pierce me in the heart or knock my brain around a bit, but overall the way I explained my feelings was “They are not giving me the opportunity to invest.”
The idea behind the show, I think, is simple. “What if” is really all it comes down to. We get taken down two separate paths if this woman chose one path, or the other. We get to see the outcome of her life, and her friends. If you are not paying attention, you fall behind. You get confused as to which version of this woman’s life you are watching happen. They try to help you by calling her Liz or Beth (as her name is Elizabeth), they try to help by adding a pair of glasses for one version. In theory, it’s very interesting I think. I feel fine having seen it, I don’t feel I need to ever see it again. There are a couple songs that have messages that hit-home, as it were. Most of the songs, though, seem forced. As though the people writing the book and music and lyrics were making themselves put a song here or there. My experience with musicals is small. Some are just show-y. As they should be. Like “Anything Goes” it’s light and fun with singing and dancing. Others have carefully woven music and lyrics throughout the entire story, like “Bridges of Madison County.” Where each song feels earned. This particular show, just feels…forced. Quick make her sing again!
I think if Idina Menzel was not in it, it would not be on Broadway.
We shouldn’t have to try to “invest”, but we do–I do. What does appear easier are the moments here and there where we can “connect”. The thing with “connecting” is its superficial and fluid, and sometimes far too broad. That’s okay though. (shrugs) There were a few moments where I went “I’ve been there.” and question my “what ifs” and I agreed when she claimed “are we always starting over?”
Ultimately it was Idina Menzel singing to us. right at us, for us. Like she was in concert. With a bit of a story somewhere behind her. Sometimes she spoke so quickly I missed what she was saying, again–not that big of a deal. Because the show is not that big of a deal.
And again, that’s okay. I saw a show last night. Because I’m in NY and I can. I saw a woman perform on Broadway that I’d seen perform only one other time on Broadway–as Elphaba. She had a power house voice then, and still does. A very distinct voice and sound from her when she speaks and sings. Listening to her at The Tony’s years ago as Elphaba became the reason I wanted to go to school for theatre. It was the first time I heard a musical theatre song sound like *me* Strong and belty. So my connection to her doesn’t have much to do with her ability to sing or act or tell a story. My connection has to do with what she triggered within me, all those years ago. And the connection remains, and it flickered again last night regardless of the story she was a part of.
It’s good to know there are pieces of me that can still light up.