It’s a 90s soundtrack with a contemporary feel and it’s remarkable how the songs of this era remain so relevant to a 2022 society. Jagged Little Pill – The Musical is inspired by the 1995 rock album of the same name by Grammy award winning artist Alanis Morissette and goes to show the longevity of both the artist and the ground-breaking work.
The original story of the quintessential “perfect” all-American family is turned on its head by writer Diablo Cody who creates a narrative ripped straight from the headlines that treads the line between poignant and profound.
Featuring musical theatre royalty Natalie Bassingthwaighte in the lead role of Mary Jane Healy, the casting is perfection as Bassingthwaighte gets to show off her acting chops in the meaty role of opioid addicted mother while showcasing her classic rock vocals not seen since her Rogue Trader days. Joined by Tim Draxl as the long-suffering husband Steve Healy, his vocals are velvety and his performance both touching and humorous as he grapples with the upending of his perfect family unit. Newcomer Emily Nkomo makes her debut as Frankie Healy who drives the show forward with her impressive vocals and honest portrayal of teen angst. However, it is Maggie McKenna as Jo who is perhaps the most remarkable young talent to grace the Australian stage at present. Their performance of the chart topping “You Oughta Know," is without a doubt an absolute triumph and caused a ruckus amongst the crowd with a standing ovation worthy of a rock concert. The maturity McKenna brought to the role, not to mention their powerhouse vocals is something that will stay with this reviewer for a long time.
Jagged Little Pill – The Musical embodies elements of Jonathon Larson’s Rent, as well as more recent productions including Next to Normal and American Idiot by taking on current themes, issues, and events that are true to the modern audience. While it ticks all the hot topics, buzz words and issues of the day, it never feels forced and that in itself is remarkable.
Even though Jagged Little Pill – The Musical is based on the album of the same name, it is as far from a “jukebox musical” as anything could be. This is an original story that is all too familiar, sound tracked by a timeless piece of art that continues to delight music fans and audiences almost 30 years later. If you are looking for a unique musical unlike any other, you’ll find it with Jagged Little Pill. Fitting somewhere between nostalgia and ground-breaking original theatre, Jagged Little Pill is the musical for people who don’t like musicals and the ones that adore them.
Jagged Little Pill – The Musical
lyrics & music Alanis Morissette | music Glen Ballard | book Diablo Cody
Director Diane Paulus
Venue: Comedy Theatre | Exhibition Street, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 16 January – 16 March 2022
Tickets: from $85