MOM THEATRE LOVER: If/Then: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman
If we knew then what we know now about our lives, would we make the same choices?
To quote Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Is this so?
IF/THEN, the contemporary new Broadway musical by Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book/lyrics), the creative team behind the Pulitzer and Tony-award winning musical NEXT TO NORMAL, asks these thought-provoking questions, and if you’re a fan of Tony-award winner and of FROZEN fame, Idina Menzel (and who isn’t?!), then this star vehicle is for you.
Menzel rocks the leading role of an almost 40 something woman whose life is presented as a Door A vs. Door B scenario….think Gywneth Paltrow in the film SLIDING DOORS. An intriguing enough premise, though at times, challenging to follow as Menzel slips intermittently into the lives of both Liz (wife/mother/teacher) and Beth (type-A career opportunist), depending on the path being presented.
Supported by an uber talented cast, particularly, Anthony Rapp (what a treat to see him united with a former RENT cast member), and LaChanze, a powerhouse in her own right, the show soars during such songs as the heartfelt duet, Some Other Me, between Menzel and Rapp, You Learn to Live Without and Always Starting Over (just Menzel on a bare stage — she doesn’t need more than that to shine).
The theme of much of the music is repetitive, pondering the choices we make and living with uncertainty. And, Act I, particularly, grows wearisome. But, Menzel, as always, delivers, and she’s the big draw here, despite the shortcomings of the meandering book.