If you think you might be
suffering from any kind of dementia, do not go to see the new musical, “If/Then”. It may put you over the
edge since it deals with not one plot but two played by the same cast. The star
of this confusion is Idina Menzel, who has acquired, since her Tony award for “Wicked,” a huge following of fans,
who saw her on TV in “Glee” and she recently sang the winning Oscar song from
the film “Frozen.” Menzel possesses a
voice with a big range that at times can sound melodic and even beautiful, yet
in the higher ranges it sounds shrill and harsh. The Playbill does not contain
a list of the songs in the show, written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, so I
cannot use a number as an example. However, one of them is entitled, “
F....You!” And the dialogue throughout is sprinkled generously with expletives,
certainly ruling out children under 12.
Menzel is in every scene and encompassing two characters, Liz and Beth,
is no small feat.
The question asked here is
what happens when a young woman takes one path or the other. In each case, her friends
are Lucas, the red-head Anthony Rapp, who co-starred with her many years ago in
“Rent,” and Kate, depicted with
special spunk by LaChanze. Both are gay;
they each have their problems, but this does not deter Lucas from being in love
with Elizabeth, who is supposedly a brilliant city planner. To its credit,” If/ Then” has a New York edge and
mixes ethnicities and gender identities as life does in the real world.
On one path, Liz is
protesting and unmarried; in the other she is Beth, who marries a soldier,
Josh, from Nebraska, the handsome James Snyder, who has a pleasant but bland
voice. Then there is smooth Jerry Dixon
as Stephen, her boss, who is ready to leave his wife and kids for her. The plot slips back and forth and never seems
to find its footing. On a set by Mark Wedland which includes Madison Square
Park and sites around NYC lit with lovely light by Kenneth Posner, Director
Michael Greif cannot control this story; Choreographer Larry Keigwin moves the
cast around between and during scenes with a natural flair matching the
everyday costumes by Emily Rebholz.
“If/Then” will please Idina Menzel fans, but that will only go
so far. At the Richard Rodgers Theatre NYC.