Hennepin Theater Trust and The Orpheum Theatre presents “Jagged Little Pill”.
Review by Tracy Hansen
NOTE: This musical contains strong language, adult themes, drug use, and moments of sexual violence that some may find upsetting.
Before I get into this review, I guess I’ll have to give a little background on myself. Then you’ll better understand my feelings about this. Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album came out when I was thirteen years old. That album was a big part of my growing up, as well as her future music. When I initially heard back in 2017 that there was going to be a musical based around her music, I wanted to see it so badly, despite knowing nothing about the plot.
I remember this show was on Broadway and I remember wanting to go to New York to see it. But I kept it in check because I knew it would eventually tour. Then in December of 2021, they said the production was permanently close due to the pandemic. That was upsetting. Needless to say, when they announced a tour of North America two months later, I was sure I would be there when they came to Minneapolis.
Enough of that. Now, to the show.
I thought I had an idea of what the audience’s demographic would be. I thought it would be mainly women. Because let’s be honest, it’s Alanis. However, I was very surprised to see all genders and ages there. There were elderly men at the show! There was a guy in the row in front of me that was visibly crying during certain scenes. It’s nice when people surprise you a bit.
I’m going to give away as little of the plot as possible in this because I feel you need to experience that yourself. However, I will say, the story, acting, and sound were top notch.
When the show began, I was worried that it would be a very political show, as it focused on the daughter, who is an activist. That worry was quickly squashed, as the next scene moved onto the mother. It was then that I realized this show was going to be about all the characters and what they all have to deal with in life. It wasn’t about demonizing characters, rather showing their flaws as human beings. It’s the type of show that will make you both laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.
Heidi Blickenstaff played Mary Jane, the mother of the family and my favorite character of the show. I loved that character because she seems awful because she wants everything to be so perfect. Then you realize that is just eating her alive, which is so true to life. Her performance of “Forgiven” was one of my favorites of the show. I was wondering if the performers were going to be able to belt out some of those Alanis notes and they did not disappoint.
Speaking of which, Jade McLeod’s performance of “You Outta Know” was absolutely incredible. If I didn’t include that in this review, I’d be doing you a disservice because it was amazing.
Since the music of Alanis Morissette is what brings this whole thing together, I have to mention how it played into the show. I was originally wondering that and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Some of the songs were played in full, while others were segmented. The cast did an amazing job with them, however. They were so perfectly fit into the scenes as well. It should be noted that the song, “Predator” was newly written for the production.
Overall, I’d recommend this show, but with a warning. It’s not for everyone because the scenes regarding sexual assault can be difficult. While you’ll hear some people say that people should all see it because it has an important message, I would disagree with that. That can be hard on a lot of people, myself included. I heard four different men ask the women they were with upon leaving if they were okay, due to that subject matter. It’s a powerful show, but go in aware of what you are walking into.