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Jagged Little Pill: You Oughta Go

Updated: Jun 25

Everything is just fine, fine, fiiine with the Healys, a well-off family keeping up appearances in Connecticut. They're better than fine, actually. There's the Harvard-bound son, the do-gooder, poetry award-winning daughter. The mom who doesn’t miss a packed lunch, a spin class, or misplace an ornament on the Christmas tree. The suit-and-tie dad who brings home the bread. But of course, beneath all that polish, things are bad and getting worse. It's a tale as old as time. Only this one has two Tony Awards and fifteen nominations, in large credit to the Alanis Morisette album it’s written around: Jagged Little Pill.

A rape at the Healy kids’ high school has a ripple effect on the prim Connecticut town, and in particular on the Healys. Their Ivy-bound son is the only witness. Their impassioned, activist daughter is demanding justice, while struggling to come of age as a Black girl growing up in a white family, in a predominantly white town. Dad's too busy at the office to notice anything is wrong. And Mom—secretly addicted to painkillers—is forced to face the sexual assault she experienced in college, for which she still blames herself. The resulting dramedy is clever, familiar, at times heart-wrenching, and often funny. (The heartiest audience laugh erupts when daughter Frankie Healy performs her latest piece—Ironic—in a creative writing workshop, and the class’s constructive feedback echoes that well-known snobbery: A black fly in your chardonnay? That’s not ironic. It’s “just, like, shitty.”)

Despite the messy plot web unwinding a little too hastily, the phenomenal cast, fast pace, and fun, familiar score make this musical a worthwhile night out for anyone able to catch the tour. But it’s Jade McLeod alone (cast as Jo, Frankie’s friend slash lover slash it’s complicated) delivering an electric You Oughta Know—with a throaty rasp that winks at Alanis Morisette—that earned a mid-act standing ovation and a must-see stamp from Stagehands. (The original Jo, Lauren Patten, won a Tony for the role.)

We caught Jagged Little Pill at the palatial Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston. The traveling cast hits Milwaukee next! So get your tickets. And don’t be alarmed if you fall head over feet. ;)

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