Isn’t It Ironic? Alanis’s Ultimate ’90s Album Is Heading to Broadway
Broadway, get ready to brood.
"Jagged Little Pill," the iconic decade-defining 1995 album from singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette, is headed to Broadway as a rock musical.
The musical, also called "Jagged Little Pill," will have orchestrations and arrangements by by two-time Tony Award winner Tom Kitt and will debut as a workshop production sometime in 2014. However, there's no timeline yet on when it will make it's move to the Great White Way.
"Jagged Little Pill" the musical will feature the full song list from the original album, as well as tracks from the rest of Alanis's body of work and some new, original songs that she'll compose specifically for the stage production.
"I look forward to taking the heart of 'Jagged Little Pill' and expanding its story, fleshing it out into ever deeper layers of emotionality, specificity, humanity, power, physicality, spirit and fabulism," shared Morissette, 39. "I look forward to collaborating with Vivek [J. Tiwary, producer] and Tom and our whole inspiring team to create something greater than the sum of our parts."
This certainly sounds promising! And it should given the track record of the team behind it.
To get more of a sense of how a collection of songs about a break-up could translate to a Broadway musical with its own full narrative, look no further than the creative forces behind the hit 2009 Broadway musical "American Idiot," based on Green Day's album of the same name. "Jagged Little Pill" will have the same team, including Kitt and producers Tiwary and Arvind Ethan David. The Green Day project ended up being a huge success largely due to Kitt's work with the band in taking the thematic string running through their 2004 rock opera album — which dealt with the disconnected and troubled condition of America's youth — and translating it to the stage.
Kitt is a huge Broadway talent, who, in addition to "American Idiot," also was responsible for the rock musical "Next to Normal," and this spring will debut his highly anticipated latest project, the Idina Menzel ("Rent," "Wicked," "Glee") starring "If/Then," which will also feature LaChanze ("The Color Purple" on Broadway) and Anthony Rapp ("Rent"). His recent credits also include "Bring It On: The Musical" and musical arrangement on the film "Pitch Perfect."
Musicals based on real music have a strong history of success in their translation to the Broadway stage. As opposed to the popular trend of movie-to-Broadway translations (recent Best Musical winners "Once" and "Kinky Boots"), and vice-versa ("Les Misérables," "Hairspray," "Rent"), adaptations from real musicians' catalogs tend to have more creative license in their storytelling.
Perhaps the most popular precursor to "American Idiot" and "Jagged Little Pill" was "The Who's Tommy," the 1993 musical version of The Who's 1969 double album "Tommy," which band member Pete Townshend and director Des McAnuff brought to Broadway for a two-year run before it spanned multiple touring and international productions. In 2002, Billy Joel's catalog lent itself the popular Twyla Tharp-directed musical "Movin' Out," telling the stories of America's youth in the '60s and their experiences with the Vietnam War. And the Abba catalog became the musical "Mamma Mia!" which hit Broadway in 2000 after starting in London's West End, and went on to become one of the most successful musicals of all time … and eventually a movie starring Meryl Streep.
More recently, in 2002, the music of Queen translated into the dystopian future rock opera "We Will Rock You," which ran in the West End for 10 years, but never actually came to Broadway (opting for a run in Las Vegas instead). In 2005, the music of The Four Seasons became the jukebox musical "Jersey Boys," which with creative input from original band member Bob Gaudio, became a worldwide success and is also rumored to be on its way to the big screen. And the 2006 musical "Rock of Ages" was based on a whole musical genre — classic rock hits from the '80s — and is still running strong today, itself also eventually translating to the big screen in 2012.
Rumors have been spinning for sometime that Roger Waters may take Pink Floyd's "The Wall" to the stage, following the 1982 movie version which itself was based on the band's 1979 double album magnum opus. And director Kenny Leon is reportedly working on "Holler If Ya Hear Me," a musical based on the music of late rapper Tupac Shakur.
"Jagged Little Pill" (the album), co-written with Morissette by the album's producer Glen Ballard, sold more than 33 million copies worldwide, producing six hit singles. The album is still the best-selling debut release by a female artist in the U.S. and the highest-selling debut album worldwide in music history. It debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, where it stayed for 12 weeks, and was eventually ranked as the number one best-selling album of the 1990's, certified 16x Platinum. Morissette won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, making her the youngest artist in history to win the title at age 21. She also won the Grammy for Best Rock Album and the single "You Oughta Know" won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song. Morissette’s musical success spans globally with over 60 million albums sold, seven Grammy Awards, 12 Canadian Juno Awards, two Golden Globe nominations, and multiple contributions to major theatrical releases, including "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "City of Angels."
Oh, and she once played "God" in the 1999 Kevin Smith film "Dogma."
Now we wonder if Dave Coulier will show up for "Jagged Little Pill's" opening night?
(for those who don't get this reference, the "Full House" actor is Alanis's ex, and their breakup is widely considered to be the basis for the album)