Update: The musical If/Then has closed on Broadway. If you are looking for other shows to see in New York check out Playbill Online or visit the TKTS Booth for discounted show tickets.
If/Then is one of the three musicals I saw on my last trip to New York City. You would think on my third visit to NYC that I’d want to do something else, other than see shows on Broadway, right? Well, we did do other things as well, but my friends and I love musicals. So I found myself back in Times Square and in the Broadway district, which was perfectly fine with me.
If/Then was not a show we had tickets to, but it was one we were interested in seeing. Two of my friends and I got tickets for If/Then at The Richard Rodgers Theatre, which came to $97.50 each from TKTS. Our seats were on the orchestra level, and while we couldn’t get three seats together (I sat by myself) the seats themselves were fantastic. Unless you are quite short, the rows are staggered enough that you can see the stage unobstructed.
If/Then is a new musical starring Idina Menzel (you might recognize her from this), Anthony Rapp, LaChanze and James Snyder. The music and libretto are done by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey who did the music and lyrics for Next To Normal (which I saw in 2010 and loved). If/Then is directed by Michael Grief, who has also directed Rent and Next to Normal.
If/Then is about a woman named Elizabeth (Menzel) who’s just moved back to New York City. In the first scene Elizabeth questions what her life would be like if she had made different choices. The musical shows her choices from the perspective of her being either the fun and free spirited Liz or as the professional workaholic Beth. Throughout the show the perspective (from Liz to Beth) changes. We see how the choices she makes as either Liz or Beth change her life and those around her, including her friends (Rapp, LaChanze) and her love interest (Snyder).
Some people might find the changing perspective hard to follow (they show doesn’t announce when they’re switching the perspective from Liz to Beth or vice versa), but I found it pretty easy to tell (from the costumes, changes in sets, and even from the actors) what world (Liz’s or Beth’s) the show was currently in. The next day my friends and I met a lady who came to the show late, and missed the setup for the premise. She remarked that she found the show confusing, so definitely an incentive to get to the theater on-time (or early) for the show.
The entire cast was fantastic. Of course, there is a bias because I’ve been fans of Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp since Rent. My friends, also Rentheads remarked that If/Then kind of has a Rent feel if the show followed up on the characters some 20 years in the future, when they have jobs and mortgages, etc. This might not be at all what the show is trying to portray, and it could just be me projecting my own opinions and perceptions onto the show. That’s the thing with art, it’s never in a bubble.
In terms of song style they reminded me quite a bit of those from Next to Normal. The show has a kind of rock/pop contemporary musical score. This is the first time I’ve been to a musical that’s so new I wasn’t able to get the original cast recording. It’s coming out June 3, and I’ll be buying it.
If/Then brings up important questions about life and the choices we make. There are some adult situations (swearing mostly) so I’d say it’s probably not best for young kids (the show likely wouldn’t hold their attention either). This isn’t a flashy musical, but it’s strongly character driven. I’d say if you’re a fan of Rent or Next to Normal or if you’re looking to see a modern musical focusing on characters you’ll enjoyIf/Then. It’s not often I get to see a new musical so seeing If/Then was an enjoyable experience.
Edit Sept 2017: The Richard Rodgers Theatre is located at 226 West 46 Street, New York City. If you are looking to take the subway the closest stations to this theatre are the 49th Street Station (Lines N Q R W) or 47th Street Station (Line 7).
As mentioned before If/Then has closed at this theatre, but the popular musical Hamilton is currently playing here (best of luck getting a ticket for that show). I paid for my own ticket to If/Then. This post is not sponsored or endorsed by If/Then, or the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
During my stay in New York friends and I stayed at The Court St. Giles on the Upper East Side.
Do you have any musical recommendations for New York City?