My Trip to See 'If/Then'

Jennifer Butler

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

Different shows stick with you for various reasons. Some may call this your list of favorites.

Audiences go to shows every night and each person has some motivation or reason for going. Each Audience  usually have opinions that range from “I am just here to use the ticket so it doesn’t go to waste” to “I am completely obsessed with the show and can recite all the lyrics before the curtain goes up”. 

This past week I had an opportunity to see the national tour of “If/Then” at PPAC in Providence RI.  I was familiar with all the music for the show prior to the curtain going up, and the basic plot of the show. The story is about Elizabeth and which road she should take after moving back to New York. It intertwines 2 stories together where she is Beth in one and Liz in the other and where her life goes on each of the different paths. 

As usual, and more often than not, my mother came with me to see the show. I have to say, theater just isn’t her thing. She would be okay with going to see a show if I were in it but wanting to support and spend time with me, she buys the show tickets, gets all dressed up and we head to the theater. 

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

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

I had spent the weeks previous to the ticket purchase explaining the show to her and telling her that I can’t guarantee that she would like it. It’s not like anything I have taken her to see before. Up until this point the only other show she really seemed to enjoy was “Wicked.” I told her that it is a modern day story that takes place in modern day New York. The clothing they wear are modern and the dancing is that way too. I even warned her that there was a song in the show that had a swear word in the title.  She said okay to going, but ahead of time, I really had no Idea whether she would enjoy it or not.

I could hear her laughing at the jokes during Act 1 and by the end of the show her response to my question of “How was it?” was “That was good”.  The statement really surprised me because she didn’t just say that it was good, she meant it.

I don’t think that there are any words that can describe how much that meant to me. We even discussed the show the whole car ride back to Boston.  A discussion that included “did you see that” or “it was funny when…”

I personally really enjoyed the music and Jackie Burns can belt out the big numbers of the show, which included “Always Starting Over” as well as Idina Menzel. The story was a little tough to process at times as it switched between Beth and Liz pretty quickly at times. I didn’t observe the show too much as a theater techie would because I was trying to stay on top of the story as it moved along. The show had a talented ensemble and I enjoyed the dancing. I even may have geeked out a little when Anthony Rapp appeared on the stage. 

To sum it up, I really enjoy musicals. I go for the music, the actors, and the stories. Depending on how much I like the show, those reasons determine if the show makes it onto my favorite list or not.  However ‘If/Then” is being added to my favorite list for a different reason altogether. The fact that I was able to enjoy the show with my mother, which doesn’t happen very often, is the reason this show has made it onto my favorite list.