Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014 06:53 pm est

Broadway musical finishes on sour note

Posted on April 9, 2014 | by Addy Baird

via Facebook.com

Idina Menzel is back on Broadway. Viewed as the childhood idol of so many young theatergoers thanks to her role as Elphaba in the original cast of Broadway showstopper “Wicked,” Menzel returns to the Great White Way in the musical “If/Then.”

The same young girls who were so inspired by Menzel’s Elphaba can relate to Menzel’s new character Elizabeth, a recent divorcee who moves from Phoenix to New York City to reinvent herself. Here, the storyline splits, playing out the answer to the question “What if?”

One storyline follows Liz, who wears glasses and finds love after going a certain way in the park one afternoon, and the other follows her counterpart Beth, who finds success in her career after going the other way that same day.

The storylines of Liz and Beth are not difficult to follow. They are woven together well with parallel life experiences like pregnancies and weddings. However, the music, which plays throughout and weaves together the two storylines, is unfortunately forgettable. While Menzel has her moments of musical power that showcase her incredible talent — particularly a big belting number at the end — they are not the sort of musical numbers the audience would quietly hum while leaving the theater.

The design of the show is colorful and clean-cut, topped with a mirror overlooking the stage that appropriately adds new viewpoints of Elizabeth’s story.

The supporting cast is just as talented as Menzel, despite receiving far less attention. Anthony Rapp, who plays Elizabeth’s best friend, is solid throughout both storylines. James Snyder, who plays Liz’s love interest, is incredibly charming, though his vocal range does not mesh well with Menzel’s. Snyder shines in solo ballads, as does LaChanze as Liz’s neighbor Kate, a spirited lesbian kindergarten teacher. The rest of the cast, however, neither fits with the show nor forges genuine connections among themselves, making the entire ensemble fall short.

In general, “If/Then” relies too much on Menzel’s stardom. With her in the lead role, seats will sell, but it seems unlikely that the production will be capable of standing on its own when she inevitably leaves.

The show, while interesting and original, is not the kind of musical that audiences can fall in love with and see time and time again. Though featuring a talented and passionate cast, “If/Then” misses the bar that recent Broadway shows have set.

“If/Then” is playing an open run at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 9 print edition. Addy Baird is a contributing writer. Email her at theater@nyunews.com.


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.