Alanis Morissette’s breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill, is taking Broadway for the first time in November — and in the form of a live musical adaptation.
In a new teaser video, cast members Celia Rose Gooding and Antonio Cipriano give Morissette’s 1996 hit, “Head Over Feet” a tender revamp. Shot in the same intimate style as her original music video, the two transform Morissette’s swooning monologue into a dynamic interplay between two young souls, teetering precariously on the edge of falling in love.
“It’s about feeling this resistance to falling for someone,” Morissette tells Rolling Stone over the phone. “Some people enter relationships a little more apprehensive than others. Watching them both interact like, ‘I really want this but I’m terrified!’ That’s what the song’s about.”
The musical tells not the story of Morissette’s life, but of the Healys: a fictional suburban family who struggle to shelter their adoptive daughter, and themselves, from an increasingly complex outside world. Morissette enlisted Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody to write the book for Jagged Little Pill, using only the songs as her guide; she also recruited director Diane Paulus (Waitress, Pippin), composer Tom Kitt (American Idiot, Next to Normal) and Beyoncé collaborator Sidi Larbi Cherkaou for choreography.
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“Thankfully it’s stood the test of time, I think because it’s both personal and talking about humanity and our existence,” says Morissette. “It’s a humanity conversation, not an era-specific one … ‘Mary Jane,’ for example, is performed by a man. Every time I sit in the audience, I’m actually hearing these songs for the first time in a way, through different voices, different genders, different humans. When I perform the songs live now, I hear them all — every different harmonic interpretation — and I’m like, ‘Damn you, Tom Kitt!’”
Morissette professes that she has cried during every rehearsal. “Diablo and I have a running joke about it,” she says. “At any rehearsal, it’s just common knowledge that Alanis is gonna be sobbing. But for me, my whole approach to survival has been to go as deeply as I can, and then laugh at it all. If I’m not laughing, I’m crying.”
In Diablo Cody, says Morissette, she found the “perfect balance of intellectualism, emotional intelligence and profound humor.” And, she adds, “We’re both messes.”
Alanis spent her childhood training for showbiz: she danced, played piano, and even took on a supporting role in Nineties Nickelodeon show You Can’t Do That on Television. She long entertained fantasies of acting on Broadway. But as she started to succeed as a recording artist, she suppressed those dreams — until she began talks to write a musical in 2013. Jagged Little Pill premiered five years later at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA, where the cast performed 79 sold out shows.
“[Loving theater] was to be kept secret if you were in rock and roll,” Morissette says of her early days. “It was always, ‘You got to pick a lane! You’re either rock, or you’re pop, or you’re alternative!’ I remember blurring those lines all the time. In the Nineties, it wasn’t cool to be a hyphenate — now if you’re not a hyphenate, they won’t even talk to you. But back then, the record company would be like, ‘Don’t do that!’ And I can’t, it’s impossible. You know I’m multi-tentacled, I’m not gonna pick one lane!”
The show’s first-ever Broadway run kicks off Sunday, November 3rd in New York City’s Broadhurst Theater. Tickets are available here.
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