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NY1 Theater Review: 'If/Then'

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Tony award-winning Actress Idina Menzel is back on Broadway in the new musical "If/Then." NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

You really do have to admire the ambitiousness of "If/Then." It's a smart show that ultimately outwits itself. The story tracing two versions of a woman's life is a muddy affair. And if not for Idina Menzel's sensational performance, audiences might be inclined to dub it "So/What."

It's brought to you by the brilliant team behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Next To Normal," who certainly know how to write for a contemporary audience. The New York City setting also provides some fun inside humor. Brian Yorkey's book ponders the notion that all it takes is a minor twist of fate to send our lives careening in one direction or another.

The play explores two parallel paths for Elizabeth, a bright divorcee who's arrived in the city to start over. One path brings her romance and a family; the other, a successful career as a city planner. It's a fascinating idea, but the narrative, jumping back and forth, gets jumbled, and it's hard to follow.

Director Michael Greif makes a solid effort delineating the two stories, but even his superior skills can't quite pull it together. And despite an interesting mirrored effect and color coding, the technical designs aren't much help.

Tom Kitt's music, with lyrics by Yorkey, doesn't rise to the level of their masterful score for "Next To Normal." But it does give Idina Menzel ample opportunity to display her great vocal gifts, and if that's why people are buying tickets, they won't be disappointed.

Casting is strong, with fine work by Anthony Rapp, James Snyder and Jerry Dixon. LaChanze as gal pal Kate is wonderfully spunky. But Menzel really does carry the show, and it's truly impressive to see how effortlessly she manages such heavy lifting.

To everyone's credit, this very complicated show does manage to come full circle, though, given the misdirection, I can't help wondering about the roads not taken.

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