‘Jagged Little Pill’ at National Theatre: Wrenching But Real

Chris Hoch Heidi Blickenstaff in the North American Tour of JAGGED LITTLE PILL. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade, 2022

Fair warning — the latest show on stage at National Theatre is HEAVY, but if you can handle the realness (and want to see iconic 90s Alanis Morissette songs soundtrack the highs and lows of life as we’ve been living it over the last thirty years or so), then you should swallow that JAGGED LITTLE PILL and get yourself there before the show ends on March 26, 2023.

Any Alanis Morrissette listener would know that a human has a very full range of emotions, and her songs speak to all of them, but perhaps especially the wrenching ones.  This musical follows the story of the Healys, an American family circa 2015… though all of the glorious 90s are in full effect in wardrobing, dance style, and angstiness (of course).

Jade McLeod and the North American Touring Company of JAGGED LITTLE PILL. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade, 2022

They appear to be the picture-perfect Connecticut suburban family, but each member of the Healy family is going through something — or many things — and viewers should be aware that this production contains strong language, adult themes, drug use, and moments of sexual violence that some may find triggering.

In particular, JAGGED LITTLE PILL addresses sexual assault, opiate addiction, transracial adoption, gender and LGBTQIA+ identity, marriage struggles, and mental health. But it also addresses LIFE. The joy, love, and strength that come from going through the tough times and getting to the other side, or just from experiencing it and learning about yourself, what you need, and what you can handle.

(L to R) Heidi Blickenstaff, Allison Sheppard and Jena VanElslander in the North American Tour of JAGGED LITTLE PILL. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade, 2022

As groundbreaking as Morissette’s music was in the 90s, this show is today. It manages to entertain and even sprinkle in moments of levity around an almost too-tragic series of trials and tribulations hitting the Healys all at once. Yes, it’s a LOT, but it’s a lot of good, too.

Here are our top reasons to see JAGGED LITTLE PILL:

  • Adding a visual story to Morissette’s music gives the lyrics extra poignancy.
  • There is serious power in having an onstage band behind the action.
  • The dancers. The dancers. The dancers.
  • Heidi Blickenstaff, reprising her role as Mary Jane Healy from the Broadway production is unbelievable in every way, and Jade McLeod (Jo) is also especially forceful (and exceptional with Morissette’s unique style).

JAGGED LITTLE PILL is recommended for ages 14 and up, though we’d caution that even adult viewers may find scenes uncomfortable. The show runs for 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission.