If/Then is a new musical written by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, directed by Michael Greif and starring Idina Menzel, LaChanze and Anthony Rapp.
A story about ‘Elizabeth’, a recently divorced 39 year old woman starting afresh in New York City, she meets with her oldest friend Lucas – Anthony Rapp (great to see him and Idina on stage together again) who suggests she use her college nickname of ‘Beth’, then Kate, her (more new) lesbian kindergarten school teacher thinks she should go by the name of ‘Liz’. It’s set in the present day and tells two stories suggesting that the choices we make can change the whole course of our lives. We follow Liz/Beth’s story and watch it unfold in two different directions.
Idina opens the show with her character making a telephone call, it took several minutes for her to do that after the audience had finished ‘whooping’ and ‘cheering’ from her more old skool fans from her ‘Rent’ days to her movie and television based fans from her roles in ‘Glee’ and voice in ‘Frozen’– either way we were all thrilled to see her.
You do have to concentrate to understand where Liz/Beth is going as it can be mid-scene when her character will go in a different direction, and it could be easy to get a little baffled in places. However, it has a great score, very funny in places with songs such as ‘What the Fuck?. Then more heart wrenching with ‘I love you/ I hate you’. Idina and LaChanze play easy to relate to characters, the writing is real, as are the decisions and the situations we find the characters in.
The second half is quite an emotional rollercoaster – there was a lot of sniffing and surreptitious eye wiping around me (okay, including me…).
If/Then is currently previewing on Broadway and opens on March 30th.