That is the big question asked at the beginning of “If/Then,”
the new musical by the Pulitzer Prize winning team of Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey. I’m sure it’s a question that many of us have
wondered ourselves throughout the years. What if some small act completely changed
the course of our lives?
In “If/Then,” Elizabeth
(Idina Menzel) asks herself that same question.
She is a recent divorcee looking to start a new chapter of her life in
New York City. At the start of the show
she has to make a choice, hang in the park with her new friend Kate (LaChanze)
or go to a demonstration with her old college boyfriend Lucas (Anthony Rapp). This decision, and many other seemingly small
ones, leads Elizabeth down two paths: as “Liz”
she finds happiness in her personal life and as “Beth” she moves up the
corporate ladder, becoming a successful career woman. Elizabeth’s stories take many surprising twists and turn, mirroring life’s uncertain nature.
Idina Menzel is astonishing onstage (if you don’t know her from past stage roles in “Wicked” or “Rent,” maybe that little ditty “Let It Go” will jog your memory). She flawlessly weaves her way between her character’s dual story lines without skipping a beat. Oh, and she belts out a song or ten along the way. On of my favorite songs she sings in the who, “Learn to Live Without,” sent a wave of sniffles throughout the theater.
The supporting cast was also impressive. Tony winner LaChanze (“The Color Purple”)
brings the laughs as Elizabeth’s new neighbor and friend, Kate. Anthony Rapp (“Rent”) portrays the lovable
Lucas, Elizabeth’s best friend (and college ex-boyfriend) who might be eternally in the “friend zone.” James
Snyder was most remarkable as Josh, a soldier fresh off of his second tour who happens to meet Liz in the park by chance.
The songs in “If/Then” offer tunes that range from heartwarming to hilarious. There are moments in the show that might make you want to reach for a tissue or laugh out loud, but the highs and lows in Elizabeth’s journeys are what make this musical and it’s characters so relatable to the audience. I would highly recommend seeing this show on a date night or with friends.
Even though Menzel is a newly minted Disney Princess, it might be best for the kids to miss this one. There are many adult themes and some profanity (including a song titled “What the F—?”).
So if you find that you are asking yourself, “What if I don’t go see ‘If/Then?'” Then you would be missing out.
To purchase tickets, please visit the If/Then site
Disclosure: I was given complimentary tickets to see “If/Then.” However, al opinions are my own.