If/Then

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If/Then
Music Tom Kitt
Lyrics Brian Yorkey
Book Brian Yorkey
Productions 2014 Broadway

If/Then is a musical with a libretto by Brian Yorkey and a theatrical score by Tom Kitt, directed by Michael Greif. It tells the story of a 40-year old woman named Elizabeth[1] who moves back to New York City for a fresh start.

After a tryout at the US National Theatre in 2013, If/Then began previews on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 5, 2014 with an official opening on March 30, 2014. The cast recording was released by Masterworks Broadway on June 3, 2014[2] and debuted at number 19 on the Billboard 200, the highest-charting Broadway cast recording since the cast recording of Rent was released in 1996.[3]

Productions[edit]

If/Then had a developmental lab in April 2013, featuring Idina Menzel and directed by Michael Greif.[4]

If/Then began an out-of-town tryout at the National Theatre, Washington, D.C. from November 5 to December 8, 2013, officially opening on November 24.[5] The musical began previews on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 5, 2014 and officially opened on March 30, 2014.[6]

The musical is directed by Michael Greif, with choreography by Larry Keigwin, sets by Mark Wendland, costumes by Emily Rebholz, lighting by Kenneth Posner, and orchestrations by Michael Starobin. The cast stars Idina Menzel as Elizabeth, with LaChanze as Kate, James Snyder as Josh, and Anthony Rapp as Lucas, along with Tamika Sonja Lawrence, Jenn Colella, Jerry Dixon, and Jason Tam.[6]

Synopsis[edit]

Newly divorced 38-year-old Elizabeth, an urban planner, moves to New York City for a fresh start. She meets her friends Kate, a lesbian kindergarten teacher, and Lucas, a bisexual community organizer, in Madison Square Park. Kate suggests that Elizabeth start using the name "Liz" and seek out new experiences. Lucas suggests that she go back to her college nickname, "Beth," and start making professional connections in the city. "Liz" stays in the park with Kate while "Beth" leaves with Lucas, and the remainder of the show depicts two paths that Elizabeth's life could take.

Liz

Kate and Liz stop to listen to a musician in the park. Josh, an Army doctor returning from his second tour of duty, approaches Liz but she politely rebuffs him. Later, joined by Kate's girlfriend Anne, they encounter Josh again on the subway and Kate convinces Liz to take his number. But she only agrees to a date after a third encounter in the park (where Josh later admits he started spending more time in hopes of seeing her). Liz later gets in touch with an old friend, Stephen, who works in the city planner's office. His deputy position was recently filled, but he recommends her for a professorship and she gets the job. Josh introduces his best friend David to Lucas, and they become a couple. Liz has been trying to go slow with Josh, but she gives into her passion and they spend the night together. Liz becomes pregnant; she and Josh marry and have two sons. Kate and Anne also marry. Josh is shipped overseas, where he is killed in the line of duty. A despondent Liz relies heavily on Kate and Lucas, and decides to leave her teaching position. Kate and Anne divorce due to Anne's infidelity. Lucas and David adopt a son. Stephen asks Liz to come work for him on a major new development project in midtown Manhattan, and she accepts.

Beth

Lucas and Beth attend Lucas' protest against a development project, but his encouragement that she should answer her phone results in her meeting with Stephen the next day and accepting the deputy position that puts her in charge of that project. Beth gets Lucas to drop his objections by using her new connections to get his book published. Beth and Stephen become close, and Beth eventually kisses him but he leaves to be with his wife. Beth calls Lucas, and they spend the night together. Beth becomes pregnant but does not tell Lucas. Without consulting him, she has an abortion; as a result, he doesn't talk to her for two years, even ignoring her after he is the first person she reaches out to after a near-death experience during business travel. However, he is unable to say that he actually wanted to have a child. Beth wins awards for her work and Lucas becomes a noted activist. Beth takes on a young protege, Elena; Beth is critical of Elena's eventual decision to leave her job to follow her husband and start a family. Kate and Anne marry, and later plan to divorce after Anne is unfaithful, but Beth insists that they work on their relationship and they do stay together. Stephen, now divorced, tells Beth he regrets rejecting her advances years earlier, and he invites her to work for him in the state government. But she turns him down, opting to stay in New York City to run for the city council. When Beth meets Lucas and Kate in the park for coffee, Josh is returning home from his third tour of duty. He approaches her and she lets him buy her a coffee.

Musical numbers[edit]

+ In the pre-Broadway production, this song is not performed; instead, "The Story of Dick and Jane", was performed by Kate and company
* In the pre-Broadway production, this song is not performed; instead, a different version of "No More Wasted Time", was performed by Kate and Anne ‡ In the pre-Broadway production, this song is moved and performed between "This Day / Walking By A Wedding" and "Hey Kid"

Casts[edit]

Note: Below are the principal casts of all official major productions of the musical.

Role Original Broadway Cast
Elizabeth Vaughan Idina Menzel
Kate LaChanze
Lucas Anthony Rapp
Josh Barton James Snyder
Stephen Jerry Dixon
Anne Jenn Colella
David Jason Tam
Elena Tamika Lawrence
Deputy Mayor and others Joe Cassidy
A Bartender and others Miguel Cervantes
A Soldier and others Curtis Holbrook
A Flight Attendant and others Stephanie Klemons
A Street Musician and others Tyler McGee
Paulette and others Ryann Redmond
An Architect and others Joe Aaron Reid
Cathy and others Ann Sanders
Standby Elizabeth Jackie Burns

Reception[edit]

While at the National Theatre, Peter Marks, reviewing for The Washington Post praised Menzel, calling her "an earthy star with heavenly pipes"[7] but said the play makes "it difficult to determine at any given moment which of the stories of Elizabeth’s fate we’re in".[7] Marks noted that the show has the ingredients that it needs for success: "It’s a winning blob, and it provides a lot of engaging elements, from Mark Wendland’s becoming minimalist set, with rotating skeletons of city apartments and handsome retractable fire escapes, to Emily Rebholz’s sleek and taste-drenched costumes. The score — a far sunnier composition than the songwriters worked out for their Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about mental illness, 'Next to Normal' — gives Tony-winner Menzel the power ballads in which her fans from 'Wicked' and 'Rent' will exult."[8]

The Broadway production received primarily mixed reviews, with the consensus being that the cast shone, but the score and book were still unclear. Ben Brantley of The New York Times gave a mixed review but stated that Idina Menzel "brings an anxious intensity to a featherweight part".[9] Mark Kennedy of ABC News said, "An uneven — maybe not completely finished — show opened Sunday at the Richard Rodgers Theatre with an intriguing, ambitious premise and a leading lady with a shockingly good voice, but a clumsy story and too few impressive songs".[10] Peter Marks of The Washington Post summed up his review with, "If/Then is an enjoyable, beautifully sung, at times deeply touching experience, built on a structure that never completely works."[11] Robert Hofler of The Wrap gave an optimistic review, comparing the show's non-traditional structure to Stephen Sondheim's 'Company' saying "Today, audiences seeing those classic shows understand perfectly what's going on. Audiences seeing them in the original productions – take it from me – were very confused and exasperated" and that "...it's an intriguing book, but one that Yorkey might tinker with beyond opening night, just as the books of “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Follies” went through many revisions after their respective Broadway premieres. In other words, see “If/Then” now so you can have the fun of making comparisons to its future revivals, of which there will be many".[12] Elysa Gardner of USA Today was positive, writing, "Yorkey's book and lyrics match the probing compassion of Normal without indulging in that show's preciousness. The characters here are more accessible and likable, from James Snyder's rugged but tender Josh to Anthony Rapp's wry Lucas, Elizabeth's longtime friend. LaChanze brings infectious verve to the role of Kate, a lesbian schoolteacher who evolves from a stock comic-buddy type into a compelling individual. As for the leading lady, Menzel seems both grounded and energized by the opportunity to play a grownup who learns that there really are no ever-afters. There is poignance in that discovery, but a sense of liberation as well, and If/Then captures both to moving, invigorating effect."[13]

Despite mixed reviews, the show enjoyed strong box-office returns. During its first full week of performances, the show debuted in the top 10 with $931,268.[14] The show was highlighted by Entertainment Weekly as one of the hits of the 2013-2014 season.[15] By the last week of April the show was playing to over 97% capacity and was noted as one of the two highest-grossing new musicals.[16][17] In May, If/Then was noted by Variety as being one of "the spring openers that have shown box office strength all along," and was still bringing in over a million dollars at the box-office every week.[18] Also in May, Deadline.com highlighted the fact that If/Then was defying the odds as one of the few original musicals to perform strongly in recent years, with most original musicals only lasting around a month. Deadline.com went on to comment on the strength of Menzel's name and fan-base as being behind the show's financial success.[19]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2014 Tony Award[20] Best Original Score Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Idina Menzel Nominated
Drama Desk Award[21] Outstanding Actress in a Musical Idina Menzel Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Michael Starobin Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award[22] Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway) Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey Nominated
Drama League Award[23] Distinguished Performance Idina Menzel Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Tix Now on Sale for Pre-Broadway Engagement of New Musical 'If/Then', Starring Tony Winner Idina Menzel" Playbill, July 24, 2013, accessed 1 August 2013
  2. ^ BWW News Desk. "IF/THEN Cast Album Tracklist Announced; Release Set for 6/3" Broadway World, April 16, 2014
  3. ^ Keith Caulfield. "Idina Menzel's 'If/Then' Scores Show-Stopping Chart Debut" Billboard, June 11, 2014
  4. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey Broadway Musical 'If/Then' Will Get NYC Lab Presentation" playbill.com, March 7, 2013
  5. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Pre-Broadway Premiere of 'If/Then', Starring Idina Menzel, Opens Nov. 24 in Washington, DC" playbill.com, November 24, 2013
  6. ^ a b "Miguel Cervantes, Curtis Holbrook, Ryann Redmond Join Broadway's 'If/Then'; Complete Cast and Creative Team Announced" playbill.com, August 27, 2013
  7. ^ a b "Eagerly awaited musical ‘If/Then’ is a winning blob, with many kinks to be worked out". Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ Marks, Peter. "Eagerly awaited musical ‘If/Then’ is a winning blob, with many kinks to be worked out" The Washington Post, accessed March 1, 2014
  9. ^ Brantley, Ben."Theater review." The New York Times, March 30, 2014
  10. ^ Kennedy, Mark."Review" abcnews.go.com
  11. ^ Marks, Peter."Review" washingtonpost.com
  12. ^ Hofler, Robert. "'If/Then' Theater Review" thewrap.com
  13. ^ Gardner, Elysa. "Idina Menzel embraces reality in 'If/Then'" usatoday.com
  14. ^ "'If/Then' Opens Well at the Box Office". Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Broadway box office: Denzel Washington's 'Raisin in the Sun' is season's biggest hit". Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Growing Sales for Beautiful and Rocky on Broadway". Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Broadway Box-Office Analysis, April 14-20: If/Then, Lady Day and More Boast Almost-Full Audiences". Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  18. ^ Cox, Gordon. "Broadway Box Office: The Street Sticks to Its Guns Against TV Upfronts and ‘Godzilla’" variety.com
  19. ^ Gerard, Jeremy. "Broadway B.O.: Idina Menzel’s Star Power; Fred Zollo’s Photographic Memory" deadline.com
  20. ^ Gans, Andrew. "68th Annual Tony Awards Nominations Announced; 'Gentleman's Guide' Leads the Pack" playbill.com, April 29, 2014
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew. "2014 Annual Drama Desk Awards Nominations Announced; 'Gentleman's Guide' Earns 12 Nominations" playbill.com, April 25, 2014
  22. ^ "Outer Critics Circle 2013-14 Season" outercritics.org, May 12, 2014
  23. ^ "Denzel, Daniel, Neil among Drama League Award nominees". Retrieved April 23, 2014. 

External links[edit]