Once again, I have had the pleasure of seeing yet another Broadway performance at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. I’ve seen so many Broadway shows in the last 5 years, yet it is never enough. They just keep popping up with more fabulous musicals (and plays) that I MUST see. If/Then is a musical that, to be honest, I knew nothing about, but was dying to see for the sole purpose that Idina Menzel was playing the lead. Of course, by the time If/Then made it’s stop in Nashville, Idina was no longer in the show, but I was intrigued nonetheless… if she chose to do the show in the first place it can’t be bad! So, this week, I got a sitter, drove to TPAC, met up with one of my favorite Aunts, parused the playbill and prepared myself for a show I knew very VERY little about.
Let me give you a quick synopsis, and I’ll try not to give any spoilers. It is about a 38-year-old divorcee, Elizabeth, who moves to New York to start fresh, possibly a new career or even a new flame. The show begins with Elizabeth saying something along the lines of…”What if I never met you. What if I hadn’t gone to the park that day? What If it was a day later, an hour later? What If I hadn’t stopped to listen to that man playing the guitar? etc etc”. We are then taken back to that time, the time where she is in the park, Madison Square Park, to be exact. She is meeting up with two different friends and has the option to go with one or the other. The show then takes us down both roads. One that ends up being more career oriented and one more relationship oriented, but both intertwined. (Think Sliding Doors). The show is constantly switching between her parallel lives… which ends up with all of us learning exactly what “what if” would look like, had she taken one path or the other.
I loved it. I am that person that is always questioning every move I make or have made and while I am very happy and fulfilled in my life, I still stop and wonder “what if”? Twenty minutes into the show, I found myself very invested in Elizabeth’s life and dying to know where each path would lead. Is there a right or wrong path? Will the paths intertwine? And more importantly, will they end at the same destination? It makes you think twice about your own choices and how your choices effect the paths of everyone else.
Highlights? Well, FIRST OF ALL, Idina’s replacement, Jackie Burns is phenomenal…she looks, sounds and sings exactly like Idina! I was thoroughly impressed and pleased! In fact, the whole cast was incredible. The supporting female role was played by LaChanze who won a Tony for the lead role in The Color Purple. The show had several “LOL” moments… just imagine Idina Menzel (well, her identical twin) singing “what the fuck?” I really enjoyed the many NYC references too. I think you’d have to be pretty familiar with the city to catch them all, and even get a few of the jokes, so I felt a little like an insider when a reference popped up. The plot itself is a highlight. I’m still thinking about it days later, which is always a good sign in my book.
Lowlights? It is sometimes hard to keep up with the two different stories. They do a good job of giving you signs when the story-line has switched paths, but they can be easy to miss. There is no stand-out song. Don’t get me wrong, the singing and instrumentals are great, but the songs fall short when it comes to catchy belt-out-loud in your car hits that all the great musicals have. Also, there are some sad scenes. This isn’t necessarily a lowlight, but I want you to be prepared to cry. Although, there’s a good chance you aren’t quite as sensitive as I am. I cry A LOT.
As always, HUGE thank you to TPAC for having me and always hosting so many fabulous Broadway shows!