Live Theater, Live Theater Reviews

Theatre Review: Alanis Morissette’s JAGGED LITTLE PILL at the Fabulous Fox

Posted: January 22, 2024 at 3:58 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

A more recent popular musical style has been to take popular songs and repurpose them for a musical. This has been successfully done by several musicals (Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia, & Juliet). Adding her catalogue to the mix, Alanis Morrissette joined with Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body) to create a musical using Morrisette’s impressive body of work. In 2018, Jagged Little Pill debuted at the American Repertory Theater in Boston and then moved to Broadway.

The musical centers around the Healy Family. A Connecticut family who appears perfect from the outside. However, each family member is dealing with their own issues. Mom, Mary Jane, (expertly played by Julie Reiber, deals with the pressures of society’s obsession with perfect families by abusing pain medicine. Husband, Steve, (Benjamin Eakeley) feels neglected by this wife while working as a partner in a law firm. Son, Nick (Dillon Klena) is navigating the pressures of applying to colleges and his loyalty to a friend who raped his other friend at a party. And teenage daughter, Frankie (Teralin Jones) is trying to find her identity as a Black child who was adopted by a white family. All of this is against the backdrop of Morrisette’s emotive and moving songs.

The strength of the musical is in the talent of the women vocalists. Julie Reiber is excellent in her role as Mary Jane. Bringing both power and a quiet reservation to her role, Reiber is a strong and vibrant vocalist. Her “Uninvited” is stunning and emotional. Teralin Jones as Frankie showcases comical and dramatic talent all at once. Jones has a strong voice and easily outshines the other cast members when she is on stage.

In a supporting role, Jade Mcleod is witty and vocally impressive portraying Jo, Frankie’s girlfriend. Mcleod sings two of the most well-known Alanis Morrissette songs, “Hand in My Pocket” and “You Oughta Know”, the latter of which they are absolutely show-stopping in. Also in a supporting role is Allison Sheppard whose vocals are haunting and heartbreaking as rape survivor Bella.

The ensemble creates a memorable experience through dance and vocals. Shelby Finnie particularly stands out in her role as Mary Jane’s addiction/avatar and stuns in her modern dance during Uninvited. The entire cast throws passion into every movement, every vocal and every mark.

Not to be outdone by cast alone, the band musicians are given time to shine throughout the show in their place onstage. The sets are minimal, allowing the music and story to tell the tale. The lighting design enhances each musical numbers either through color, intensity or reserved spotlight. The choreography is driven and expressive.  

Alanis Morrisette’s songs offer a unique backdrop to the progressive tone of the book. Cody’s book highlights Women’s Rights, Black Rights, Drug Abuse, LGBTQIA+ Rights, and the superficial perfect façade of middle and affluent society in America. While at times witty and endearing, the musical does not shy away from difficult discussions about topics like rape, drug abuse and marital complexities. The result is intense, thought-provoking and emotional. Morrisette’s lyrics are poignant and used wisely to enhance the book’s theme. Overall, the musical lives up to its tagline “Some Shows You See. This Show You Feel.”

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy