IF/THEN Is A Heartfelt But Messy Musical
Reviewed by: Stacey L. Crawley
Capturing the pathos of life, If/Then is an emotionally transparent musical that follows two distinct storylines for Elizabeth (Jackie Burns), who works as a city planner and moves back to Manhattan to start over after a failed marriage in a city with many possibilities. The show reunites composer Tom Kitt and book writer lyricist Brian Yorkey who were behind “Next to Normal.”
We open with our protagonist meeting her old college friend Lucas (Anthony Rapp), who is an activist, and Kate (Tamyra Gray), a kindergarten teacher. We are then introduced to the dual personas with “Beth” going off with Lucas, while “Liz” hangs around the park. The only difference is “Liz” wears glasses and “Beth” does not. It’s confusing a first, but once the clarity comes through you’re able to keep the stories straight. With it’s amazing set and great pacing, I didn’t mind that it was a bit hokey at times.
The actors give committed performances, and their singing had emotional range. It was hard to swallow Manhattan as this crime-free wonderland and it definitely needs more irony and humor to sell the audience. It’s safe to say that you’ll enjoy this heartfelt musical, even if the plot is a bit messy – albeit clever.
If/Then runs through March 6, 2016 at the Oriental Theatre. Visit BroadwayinChicago.com for tickets and more information.