"Jagged Little Pill" - by Alanis Morissette - Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts (Worcester, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Jade McLeod as "Jo" and the Ensemble of the Alanis Morissette musical, "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. playing through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“I don't want to dissect everything today." 

                                                        - Alanis Morissette 

The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

Presents Alanis Morissette's Musical


“Some shows you see. This show you feel!”

Lyrics by Alanis Morissette 

Music by Alanis Morissette & Glen Ballard 

Book by Diablo Cody 

Directed by Diane Paulus 

Movement Direction & Choreography - Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui 

Music Supervisor, Orchestrator & Arranger - Tom Kitt 

Music Director - Matt Doebler   

Cast Includes: Julie-Reiber as “Mary Jane Healy,” Teralin Jones as “Frankie Healy,” Benjamin Eakeley as “Steve Healy” Dillon Klena as “Nick,” Jade Mcleod as “Jo,” Allison Sheppard as “Bella,” Rishi Golani as “Phoenix,” Claire Crause as “Swing/Dance Captain,” George Vickers V as “Swing/Assistant Dance Captain,” Shelby Finnie as “MJ Avatar” Ensemble: Lee H. Alexander, Delaney Brown, Chelle Denton, Liesie Kelly, Cydney Kutcipal, Jordan Quisno, Carmella Taitt, Alexander Tan, Daniel Thimm, Justin Scott Brown, Elaine Watson,  Swing: Naima Alakham, Sophie Lee Morris, Sergio Pasquariello  (NOTE: Information obtained from tour website subject to change)   

Additional Creative Team: 

Scenic Design - Riccardo Hernández; Costume Design - Emily Rebholz; Lighting Design - Justin Townsend; Sound Design - Jonathan Deans; Video Design - Lucy Mackinnon; Hair, Wig & Make-Up Design - J. Jared Janas; C12 Casting - Jillian Cimini; Production Stage Manager - Veronica Aglow; People And Culture Director - Colette Luckie  (NOTE: Information obtained from tour website subject to change)   


April 5, 2024 through April 7, 2024  

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)

Presented at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester. 

For more information, contact the Hanover Theatre at # 877-571-SHOW (7469) or via email at info@thehanovertheatre.org  



Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

The Hanover Theatre brings "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" to the city of Worcester and "you oughta know" this musical totally rocks.

The jukebox musical features music by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, lyrics by Morissette, a book by Diablo Cody, with additional music by Michael Farrell and Guy Sigsworth

"JAGGED LITTLE PILL" is inspired by Morissette's 1995 album and deals with pain, healing, and empowerment. 

This musical will not appeal to everyone - the score is very "90's" and the subject matter can certainly get dark and "over angsty," at times.

While compared to another angst-ridden suburban family musical, "Next to Normal," outside of dealing with internal family struggles, the story and subplots could not be more different. 

Also, for those who enjoy a spectacularly staged musical that comes with dynamic performances by its principal cast supported by an exciting dance ensemble, those audiences will not be disappointed. 

But it will still not appeal to everyone. 

"JAGGED LITTLE PILL" premiered at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2018, directed by Diane Paulus

Halfway into the touring production at the Hanover Theatre, it becomes clear the show owes its appeal as much to the ingeniously intricate staging by Paulus as the musical catalog of Morissette.

The show began previews on Broadway in 2019 but closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The musical briefly re-opened in 2021, running from November until December

However beset by delays and closures, the "plagued" production did manage to receive 15 nominations for the 74th Tony Awards, winning two of them (to Cody Diablo for Best Book of a Musical and to Lauren Patten for Featured Actress in a Musical

The musical also would go on to win a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album

In 2013, "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" co-composer and lyricist Alanis Morissette and librettist Diablo Cody began working on the musical adaptation of the Morissette album "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" with composer Tom Kitt attached to pen new arrangements and orchestrations for the original story concept. 

A reading took place in 2017, with Idina Menzel as lead character "Mary Jane." 

The first public performance of songs from the show took place in 2018 at the American Repertory Theater Gala and later that same year the musical would receive its world premiere. 

"JAGGED LITTLE PILL" has a book by Diablo Cody with direction by Diane Paulus and exquisite choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, who won a 2019 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Choreography. 

(Photo: Dillon Klena as "Nick," Teralin Jones as "Frankie," Julie Reiber as "MJ" and Benjamin Eakeley as "Steve" in a scene from the Alanis Morissette musical, "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. playing through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

"JAGGED LITTLE PILL" tells the story of how the lives of the "Healys," a seemingly perfect white Connecticut family with an adopted Black daughter, collapse when faced with issues of repressed gender identity, sexual assault and substance abuse.

Mary Jane (aka "MJ" played by Julie Reiber) is the mother of the Healy clan and, as the musical begins, she is seen typing on a laptop, composing her annual Christmas holiday "family letter" - those things nobody ever wants around the holidays. 

Healy patriarch Steve (Benjamin Eakeley) appears to be addicted to both work and online pornography. 

Yet, it is later revealed Steve does so because MJ has distanced herself from him emotionally...and physically...due to an accident which has left her addicted to painkillers.

None of this goes in the letter, of course, but MJ "types" it out as some form of catharsis.

The relationship between the two characters is strained and impacts their family relationships, which includes that with their son, Nick (Dillon Klena) and their adopted daughter, Frankie (Teralin Jones).

Both children are experiencing identity crises to which both parents appear to be oblivious. 

16-year-old Frankie is becoming politically active in school - protesting racial and gender bias, racial and gender suppression, and other evil white patriarchal matters - all while exploring her own sexuality with her best friend, Jo (Jade McLeod) and a new boyfriend, Phoenix (Rishi Golani).

Meanwhile, straight, straight laced and straight "A" high school senior Nick isn't sure about the road he wants to take after graduation.

All of this gets "airbrushed" or glossed over in MJ's "family letter," with everything else taking a back seat to the news Nick has been accepted to Harvard.

(Photo: Dillon Klena as "Nick," and the Ensemble of the Alanis Morissette musical, "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. playing through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

In addition to music from the show's namesake album, the musical also features many familiar tunes from the Morissette catalog, including "Thank U," "That I Would Be Good," So Pure," "So Unsexy," the Act Two opener "Hands Clean" and the breathtaking "Uninvited" from the soundtrack of the 1998 film "City of Angels.   

Another familiar favorite is "Hands in My Pocket" sung as a duet between the impressive Jones and McLeod.

Morissette also wrote two new songs for the musical: "Smiling" and "Predator."  

A subplot of the story involves the rape of fellow student Bella (Allison Sheppard) at a party attended by Frankie, Nick and Phoenix.

When events become a "he said/she said" it impacts everyone but especially MJ - for reasons which become clearer as the story progresses. 

Klena and Golani impress greatly as the clueless pair of male students desperately trying to navigate in the modern "unsafe waters" of high school which become even more treacherous as events unfold. 

(Photo: Jade McLeod as "Jo" and the Ensemble of the Alanis Morissette musical, "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. playing through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

The cast all give exemplary performances supported by a simply electrifying ensemble.

Reiber and McLeod are the vocal powerhouses of this production sending shockwaves with their renditions of a pair of Morissette tunes.

Reiber as Mary Jane is simply astounding in the most creatively choreographed number in the show, "Smiling," where we witness her addiction struggle in both reverse and forward motion, providing a unique and simply stunning visual.

Similarly, Reiber performs "Uninvited" with an impassioned grace and anguish leading to a pivotal moment in the story. 

McLeod as Jo stuns, simply stuns, in an emotionally explosive stage performance of the classic Morissette tune, "You Oughta Know" in the show's second act, leading to thunderous and absolutely well deserved applause.

The ensemble's importance cannot be overstated as they faithfully execute staging and choreography apparently designed to express an emotional empathy to the odysseys of each of the principal characters - and it is simply tremendous to watch.

The show also has a humorous moment or two, such as when it seems to poke fun at Morissette herself, taking several jabs at her song "Ironic" (read in class as a "poem-story-kind'a thing" written by Frankie).

Eakeley is a fine vocalist who, as an actor, adds a marvelous dose of compassion as a distant husband and father trying desperately to re-connect with his family. 

But is it too little too late?

(Photo: The CAST of the Alanis Morissette musical, "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. playing through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

The band for the show is located on stage above the action rather than off stage below down in an orchestra pit. 

This makes them present and part of the overall show, which is a visual treat, but also the positioning makes the band overpowering at times, causing a few of the performances to go "pitchy" during some musical numbers, most noticeably during the aforementioned "You Oughta Know" (overlooked mainly due to McLeod's bravura performance).

The various topics of 21st century social issues are brought to the forefront in "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" and the show does not shy away from any of them.

The musical deals with them in an unapologetic "in your face" manner, as in the show's closer, "You Learn" - forcing us to "learn," to recognize that these issues exist in our society and must be dealt with - NOW.

"JAGGED LITTLE PILL" only plays at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. through April 7th, 2024 but the experience will most likely stay with you forever. 

Coming up next in the Hanover Broadway series, beginning May 3rd, 2024 will be "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" by Harper Lee featuring a new adaptation by Aaron Sorkin.

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For more information, contact the Hanover Theatre at # 877-571-SHOW (7469) or via email at info@thehanovertheatre.org  


Approximately two hours, 45 minutes with one intermission

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




“Redemptive, rousing and real, ’JAGGED LITTLE PILL’ stands alongside the original musicals that have sustained the best hopes of Broadway.”  - The New York Times

“Some shows you see. This show you feel!” 

Based around the music of Alanis Morissette, “JAGGED LITTLE PILL” centers on the Healy family: MJ and Steve and their teenage children Frankie and Nick. 

Joy, love, heartache, strength, wisdom, catharsis, LIFE—everything we’ve been waiting to see in a Broadway show—is here in the exhilarating, fearless new musical based on Alanis Morissette’s world-changing music. 

Directed by Tony® Award winner Diane Paulus (“Waitress,” “Pippin,” upcoming “1776”) with a Tony® winning book by Diablo Cody (“Juno”) and Grammy® winning score, this electrifying production about a perfectly imperfect American family “vaults the audience to its collective feet” (The Guardian).

Please note: 

This production contains strong language, adult themes, drug use and moments of sexual violence that some may find triggering. 

“JAGGED LITTLE PILL” addresses many topics of contemporary life, including sexual assault, opiate addiction, transracial adoption, gender and LGBTQIA+ identity, marriage struggles and mental health.

 Please visit www.jaggedlittlepill.com/resources to learn more about the show’s partner organizations, who have countless resources that speak to the many topics covered in the show. 

Please contact the box office at 877-571-SHOW (7469) for more information.


Worcester Center for Performing Arts is a registered not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which owns and operates The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.


2 Southbridge Street

Worcester, MA. 01608

877-571-SHOW (7469)