Life-affirming modern musical explores the relationship between choice and destiny

Presented by David Mirvish
Music by Tom Kitt
Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Directed by Michael Greif
Starring Jackie Burns, Anthony Rapp and Tamyra Gray

Tamyra Gray, Jackie Burns and Anthony Rapp. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Now playing at the Princess of Wales Theatre, If/Then simultaneously follows one woman’s two possible life paths, painting a moving portrait of the lives we lead, as well as the lives we might have led.

The story centres around the almost-40-something Elizabeth (Jackie Burns), who moves back to New York City for a fresh start after divorcing her husband in Phoenix. The uplifting opening musical number, "What If?," sets the stage for the two possible paths laid out in front of her.

Elizabeth meets her friends Kate (Tamyra Gray of American Idol fame), a kindergarten teacher, and Lucas (RENT's Anthony Rapp), a community organizer, in Madison Square Park. Kate suggests that Elizabeth start using the name "Liz" and seek out new experiences. Lucas suggests that she go back to her college nickname, "Beth," and start making professional connections in the city. "Liz" stays in the park with Kate while "Beth" leaves with Lucas, and the remainder of the show depicts two paths that Elizabeth's life could take.

In one scenario, Liz meets Josh (Matthew Hydzik), a charming army doctor returning from his second tour of duty and they fall in love and start a family. In the other, Beth takes a job as a city planner working with an old friend, Stephen (Daren A. Herbert), who helps her achieve great professional success, but her relationship with Lucas suffers as a result.

Meanwhile, the lives of Kate and her partner Anne (Janine DiVita) turn out quite differently in the world of Liz vs. Beth. As does Lucas's future, which involves him meeting a man named David (Marc Delacruz) in Liz's reality, and coping with unrequited love in Beth's.

Idina Menzel starred as Elizabeth in the original Broadway production, and in many ways, Burns' performance in the touring production mirrors Menzel's style. However, Burns is a powerful force in her own right, delivering an explosive performance filled with humour, emotion and wit. Stand out musical numbers include the hilarious song "What the Fuck?," and the poignant piece "You Learn to Live Without."

Rapp is also terrific in the role of the cynical activist Lucas (although he struggles to hit some of the musical's high notes). And Gray is an energetic treat to watch as Elizabeth's ever supportive friend Kate. Director Michael Greif's production is brilliantly executed overall, fast-paced, with seamless set changes, smooth choreography and vibrant costumes. Only the occasional shouting in some of the musical numbers takes away from the beauty of Tom Kitt's score with relatable lyrics by Brian Yorkey.

Don't miss the chance to see this entertaining contemporary adventure unfold on stage.

If/Then runs until May 8, 2016 at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Visit mirvish.com for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Tue, 2016-04-12 - Sun, 2016-05-08
Our rating:


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.