If/Then at the Pantages

Gordon and I went to see If/Then at the Pantages last night. When it first came out the reviews in the WSJ were mixed so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately, the New York cast reprised their roles. Idina Menzel stopped the show when she made her appearance. She’s a charming, relaxed actress with a wonderful voice. LaChanze played Kate and was delightful. James Snyder played Josh and was believable and touching as was Anthony Rapp who played Lucas. I loved the actors but agreed with WSJ that the book was messy. And Gordon commented that there was wasn’t a hummable tune in the whole show. No spectacular dance numbers either. The story revolves around a youngish woman named Elizabeth who leaves a stultifying marriage to try her luck in New York (the writers keep making fun of Phoenix where Elizabeth spent her married years. I think it was probably Los Angeles when the show played New York but that wouldn’t go over well out her. Poor Phoenix). Then we had two plot lines to follow. The first shows her life as Beth spending her life as a career woman. The second shows her life as Liz where she marries a soldier/doctor and has children. The Beth/Liz plot lines also affect her circle of friends. Beth has gay couples (men and women) as friends and her life choices affect them. Liz has a lesbian couple who divorce because Beth wasn’t there to keep them together. The action keeps jumping from Beth to Liz and the play ends with her starting all over again as Elizabeth. Anyway, I think that’s what happened. It seemed to be a sort of a strange “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I was confused through the first act until the guy in front of us started telling his date/wife what was going on. I thought we were dealing with alternate universes or something very scifi. I think it would have helped if they’d used the phrase ‘if/then’ anywhere in the script–if they used it, I missed it. I thanked the man for clearing up my confusion and his date/wife said she hadn’t gotten it either. She added that one of her friends in New York was a backer of the show and he absolutely hated it. I guess he’s hating it all the way to the bank; it seems to be doing well. The second act was moving, everybody cried. There was the obligatory line snarking about Republicans but I got the feeling that the joke was on the Liberals because the snark was about the soldier/doctor who’s the only real hero in the piece. Those of us in the orchestra section just rolled our eyes (gotta have an insult about Republicans someplace) but there was minimal cheering in the cheap seats which was a departure. Normally, the dim-bulbs roar. I guess even they didn’t like the soldier being mocked. Anyway, the cast got a standing ovation with Idrina getting the most applause. She’s very good and now I can say I’ve seen one of her shows. I didn’t get to see her in Wicked.

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About Barbara Schnell

I've dedicated my life to full-time employment avoidance. I've been an actress, renovated a 1921 California Bungalow, set a cash-winning record on $25,000 Pyramid, and came in last on Jeopardy. I live in Los Angeles with my patient husband and two cats.
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