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Jagged Little Pill at Theatre Royal Sydney - Review

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by lilbusgirl (subscribe)
http://3eggsfull.blogspot.com.au/
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Loved the album, come and see the musical version
Missed the theatre? I must have, as I have managed to sneak into every conversation that I'm going to the Jagged Little Pill musical. But the last conversation with a few millennials, I received perplexed looks, 'who, what, is that something to do with Alanis Morrisette?' I quickly explained 'it's a musical based on Alanis Morrisette's confessional 1995 album Jagged Little Pill'. I still received looks of confusion.

Who hasn't heard of Jagged Little Pill, the album? The best response was from my musical minded friend, "Oh yes, Alanis! I remember back then I listened to that album on my discman." Oh dear, that's showing our age.

I'm positively giddy at the thought of going to the theatre. I gasped as we walk into the recently refurbed entrance foyer of the Harry Seidler designed building where the curved staircase dominates the expansive space, high ceilings emphasize the exquisite light sculpture and light pouring in from the giant proportioned floor to ceiling windows. Inside the theatre, your eyes are drawn to the vast timber ribbed ceilings and comfy burgundy red seating cocooning the theatre space.

The musical Jagged Little Pill is inspired by the groundbreaking rock album of the same name by seven-time Grammy Award-winner Alanis Morissette but isn't a bio-musical of this artist. Tony and Academy Award Winner Screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno, Tully) invented a fictional narrative that would fit the songs. It's the story about an imperfect suburban American family, the Healy's, that seem perfect on the outset.

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Jagged Little Pill Australia 2021 - Full cast - Pic credit Daniel Boud


The Healy family consist of tightly wound perfect homemaker mum, MJ (Natalie Bassingthwaighte), workaholic dad Steve with a porn addiction (Tim Draxl), emotional lacking golden boy son Nick (Liam Head) and rebellious activist adopted African American daughter Frankie (Emily Nkomo).

Jagged Little Pill Australia 2021 - Liam Head, Emily Nkomo, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Tim Draxl - Pic credit Daniel Boud


Frankie distrusts MJ's cheerful Instagram filtered ways and resents her refusal to engage as she insists she doesn't see colour. MJ dismisses Frankie's activism a phase as she has her own problems, as an earlier car accident left her with an addiction to pain killers and triggered memories of an earlier sexual trauma. Come to think of it, everyone in the show has problems, even the supporting characters.

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Jagged Little Pill Australia 2021 - Emily Nkomo, Natalie Bassingthwaighte - Pic credit Daniel Boud


Cody's script is rich with cleverly placed one-liners – "Your mum is iconic! She is one salad away from a psychotic break." The acting is strong with breakout performances from Jo, (Maggie McKenna) Frankie's girlfriend.

The musical flits between the main characters with amazing choreography by Tony Award nominee and frequent Beyonce collaborator Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui ("Apesh*t"; "Love Drought/Sandcastles" Live at The Grammys).

It was truly spellbinding to watch the dreamlike thrashing dance moves mimicking the swirling emotions of MJ as she delves into despair. Cleverly rewinding the scenes by reversing the movements was truly inspired. Frankie's youth is beautifully conveyed by Nkomo.

Nick's classmate, Bella (Grace Miell) is assaulted at a party, she gives a quiet yet compelling performance and is captivating to watch. As Frankie starts seeing Phoenix (Aydan), a handsome conventional white guy, it is only fitting that they 'fall head over feet'.

As if our senses could not take any more, when Jo discovers that Frankie is seeing someone else, Jo's heart wrenching guttural rocky solo numbers raised the hairs on my neck. "This is the best," I whisper to my friend as I watch the audience members leaping to their feet for a standing ovation, shrill whistles fill the air as well as fists pumping the air.

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Jagged Little Pill Australia 2021 - Maggie McKenna and cast - Pic credit Daniel Boud


Seeing the audience silhouetted in the dark lights of the theatre, mouth agog, eyes bulging, hand cupping jaws, it reminds me why seeing Jagged Little Pill musical is worth every dollar. With restrictions lifted, even with the humid wet sort of summer, Sydney is getting her mojo back and where better to go than to reignite theatre-goers love of world-class theatre.

Every cast member and each actor embodies the characters like nothing I've ever seen before. At this night's performance, the voices of the main characters did get a little drowned out in the collective musical numbers. However, the choreography, casting, costumes and set changes were seamless and added to the kaleidoscope of colour and emotions watching this performance.

Catching glimpses of the onstage band behind the main stage, the musical arrangement by Grammy, Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, American Idiot), added to the rawness of the musical numbers.

Some things don't seem to change when it comes to puberty, the yo-yo'ing emotions that go hand in hand with coming of age, and the transformation that occurs with life experiences. Fresh from binging on Netflix's Sex Education, it's been wholly welcoming and refreshing to see the issues of this age group being portrayed by a rich range of cultures, genders, social-economic backgrounds and providing diverse role models.

Similar in the sense Jagged Little Pill does the same, it wants to be meaningful as it brings to light the serious issues of rape, sexuality, addiction, workaholism, mental health and gun violence. The exploration of these topics makes this show so watchable.

Summer may not be as hot as I once remember but rather wet in comparison, but I'm not complaining with amazing shows at our doorstep. Sydney is bouncing back from tough times, and seeing Jagged Little Pill at Theatre Royal? You oughta know for yourself.

Nominated for 15 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and a Grammy Award win for Best Musical Theatre Album, this production has received praise from critics and theatregoers alike.

"We were told that Australian audiences can be more restrained than their American counterparts. That appears to be incorrect, and it's been heart-burstingly wonderful to see them rise cheering to their feet every night in tribute to our extraordinary Australian cast and our story of redemption, love and family. We can't wait to take this crucial story to every corner of your beautiful land. Our gratitude goes to the hard-working team at Trafalgar, Theatre Royal Sydney and GWB, and to the resident creative team tirelessly led by Associate Director Leah Howard", said producers Vivek J. Tiwary, Arvind Ethan David and Eva Price.



Don't miss out on experiencing Jagged Little Pill as it's only here for a short season at Sydney's Theatre Royal from December 2 to 19. Grab your tickets here.

It then moves to Melbourne's Comedy Theatre from January 2. Get your ticket for Melbourne here.

Due to exceptional demand for tickets, a return season is confirmed for Sydney from 9th July 2022. Get ticket here for return season here.

Perth season confirmed at Crown Theatre from 14th May 2022.

All performances will have conditions of entry adhering to the relevant State Government Public Health Orders and health advice.
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When: Sydney’s Theatre Royal from December 2 to 19. Return season is confirmed for Sydney from 9th July 2022.
Where: Theatre Royal Sydney, 108 King Street, Sydney beneath 25 Martin Place.
Cost: From $65 - $195
Your Comment
Alanis Morrisette sings with such passion and energy. I'm glad her innovative work has been brought to life in a musical
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|3933) 41 days ago
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