If/Then - Theatre Review

By: Nikita Raja

If/Then is a musical that centres around the story of a newly divorced heroine, (Elizabeth) played by the talented Jackie Burns, who comes to New York City to start afresh. Reacquainting with her past, starting a new job, fighting for what she believes in and finding love are some of the elements that make up the intriguing modern-day Broadway musical. 

Elizabeth carries the audience through two different paralleled alternatives of her life: the life she leads and the life that could have been. In one universe, she falls in love with a soldier, (Josh), played by the charming Matthew Hydzik. Fate and chance brought them together and theirs is a loving and passionate relationship.

Burns' strong vocal prowess brought the house down on many occasions throughout the show. Hydzik’s captivating on-stage presence and charm made for many tender moments between him and his leading lady. The pair's vibrant chemistry was the anchor that kept pulling me in throughout the show. 

Meanwhile, in another world she follows her passion for a career in urban planning and makes questionable romantic decisions with old flames from her past, such as with her old friend (Lucas), played by the Broadway favourite Anthony Rapp (most famous for this role as Mark in Rent). Rapp’s performance brought a raw, comedic yet lovable energy to the stage. 

The seamless set transitions made it easy to keep up with the overlapping versions of Elizabeth's life. This is a story about those “what if” moments in our lives, and how our decisions can impact and change the course our lives within seconds. David Stone’s production is filled with deep and meaningful realities of life that we can all relate to, question and reflect upon. This, coupled with Tom Kitt’s memorable musical numbers (and my personal favourites) such as “What If?“, “No More Wasted Time” and “Best Worst Mistake” brings together a stellar ensemble cast. But it was Burns’ vocal range and charisma that truly made her shine through as the strongest performer.

If/Then isn’t your typical musical where you can predict sequential story arcs and plot points. At times, it had you leaning one way and then jolted you into a completely different direction. It’s honest, emotional and moving. The artistic story-telling will leave you inspired and will challenge you to interpret your very own “what if” moments and their significance in your life. 

Starring: Jackie Burns, Matthew Hydzik, Anthony Rapp & Tamyra Gray

Directed by: Michael Grief

Music by: Tom Kitt

Book & Lyrics by: Brian Yorkey

Photos: Joan Marcus

If/Then plays at the Princess of Wales Theatre until May 8, 2016.