Writing about If/Then is something I’ve been tossing around in my mind for several days now. I saw it two weeks ago in (obviously) amazing seats and I love the cast, but I’m not sure what I thought about the show as a whole.
The show tells the story of a woman named Elizabeth (Menzel) who moves back to New York City after 10 yeas of living with her husband in Arizona and the two ways her life could’ve played out based on one decision in a park the day she returns. I’d heard that it was incredibly confusing in DC and I was sitting (by chance) next to a friend who’d seen it there but said the only difference was that in one of her “lifes” she would put on glasses. This definitely help make things a bit clearer, but things were still a bit confusing.
The score is beautiful and I could definitely relate to Elizabeth’s worrying and overanalyzing personality (unfortunately). Anthony Rapp as her best friend Lucas was wonderful, of course, but I don’t know if I believed that he was in love with Elizabeth. LaChanze brought down the house as per usual when she’s onstage as Elizabeth’s other best friend Kate. James Snyder (Menzel’s husband in one life, Josh) and Jerry Dixon (Menzel’s boss in the other life) were both lovely too.
The bit of confusion in the actual plot aside, I was left wondering why I should really care about Elizabeth. I knew both sides of the story, what was left to wonder? Her story didn’t end up being extraordinary either way. But one thing that I did like the fact that she ended up meeting Josh one way or another.
After seeing the show I learned that it was never meant to be your typical linear story but it was only changed to be that way after the confusion of average theatregoers (who’d probably have been happier watching My Fair Lady) down in DC. I’d love to listen to Kitt and Yorkey talk about writing this…
Anyways, if this review sparked your interest in the show, then you should definitely go see it.
Before I saw Time Stands Still last Wednesday night, I saw Without You (part of this year’s NYMF) in the late afternoon at the TBG Theatre on 36th Street. Without You is an autobiographical one-man show written and performed by the always-impressive Anthony Rapp. I never got around to seeing it at Ars Nova or while on tour, so I was excited to see it.
The action starts with Rapp being late to his audition for the original 1994 reading of Rent at New York Theatre Workshop. He goes into detail about his life, love, the development of Rent, his blooming friendship with it’s author, Jonathan Larson, and most importantly, his relationship with his mother and her health declined after being diagnosed with cancer. All the while the dialogue is broken up with songs from Rent or songs from his original album released in 2000 titled Look Around.
Having read Without You (his book, released in 2006) and being a former “Renthead,” I knew most of the stories he told and of course, I knew all of the music. It was really nice to hear songs from Look Around and seeing them performed helped put them in context. Especially (the song) Always, which was always (no pun intended) a favorite of mine.
Rapp was spot on with his portrayals of his mother, director Michael Grief, and Cy O’Neal (founder of Friends in Deed). He transitioned characters with ease. By the time Rapp sang Seasons of Love as a finale, he had the audience in his hands, all of whom stood when he bowed.
I’m not sure where this could go commercially because it’s such an intimate show it wouldn’t be appropriate to put in an 1100 seat Broadway house. I think it would have a sold-out run at Roundabout’s black box theatre on 46th Street, or even more appropriately, it could be part of NYTW’s next season.
There are still a number of performances left, but unfortunately they’re all sold out. If you’re lucky though, you could grab a ticket if there are any cancellations prior to the show.