Sydney’s Theatre Royal is to reopen in September 2021 with an Australian production of the Broadway musical Jagged Little Pill featuring songs from Alanis Morissette’s landmark 1995 album of the same name.
The Theatre Royal has been closed since March 2016, while the MLC Centre was redeveloped. For several years there were fears about its future until the NSW Government announced in March 2019 that it had taken on a 55-year lease and planned to re-open the venue with a private operator. In May 2020 this was revealed to be Trafalgar Entertainment, the company established by British impresario Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire.
The Jagged Little Pill creative team – Tom Kitt, Alanis Morissette, Diane Paulus, Diablo Cody and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Photograph supplied
The jukebox musical had its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in May 2018 where it sold out. A reworked version opened on Broadway in November 2019 but had to close after three months because of COVID-19 restrictions. However, it received 15 Tony Awards nominations including Best Musical, the most of any show for the 2019-2020 season, topping Moulin Rouge!, which received 14 nominations. Jagged Little Pill also won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.
The New York Times review described the overhauled Broadway version as “fully in focus: clear in its priorities, rich in character, sincere without syrup, rousing and real. It easily clears the low bar of jukebox success to stand alongside the dark original musicals that have been sustaining the best hopes of Broadway in recent years.”
In a four-star review Rolling Stone said: “Sure, the production wears its earnestness on its sleeve. But it does it so honestly and openly that I forgive it. It’s like a spoiled teenager you want to throttle for being so self-involved and whiny but can’t quite reject because of its enthusiastic beauty and unspoiled passion.”
Produced by Vivek J. Tiwary, Arvind Ethan David, Eva Price, Howard Panter for Trafalgar Entertainment and GWB Entertainment, the Sydney staging of Jagged Little Pill will be the first international production after Broadway.
The Broadway cast of Jagged Little Pill. Photograph © Matthew Murphy
The musical features 22 songs with lyrics by Morissette, most of them with music by Morissette and Glad Ballard, in new arrangements by Tom Kitt. Numbers such as You Oughta Know, Head Over Feet, Hand in My Pocket and Ironic come from the megahit album Jagged Little Pill. There are also a few songs from Morissette’s subsequent albums and two she wrote specifically for the musical, Smiling and Predator.
Diane Paulus, whose credits include Waitress and Pippin – the first musical to be staged in Australia post-COVID – is the show’s director, with choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
With a book by screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno), the musical centres around The Healys, a wealthy, seemingly perfect Connecticut family who, behind the scenes, have issues to deal with. The tightly wound mother is secretly hooked on pain killers and the father is a workaholic. Their son is a star athlete and about to head for Harvard, while their adopted African American daughter wants to save the world. Then a terrible event shakes the family and their community. The musical addresses a range of issues including sexual assault, racism, addiction, homophobia, misogyny, gender identity, parenting and climate change.
“Trafalgar Entertainment & Theatre Royal Sydney are committed to ensuring that Sydney will be the first destination for the best theatre in the world, and we are thrilled to announce that the first production to open the theatre is straight from Broadway, Jagged Little Pill. Alanis Morissette is so beloved in Australia and we can’t think of a better fit to launch this stunning fully restored new venue in the heart of the CBD Sydney,” said Howard Panter.
“We are all very excited knowing that our show Jagged Little Pill will be making its way to the Theatre Royal Sydney this year! This show has been a vehicle of healing for so many of us throughout its journey 🙏🏻 and knowing we are coming your way is such amazing news after these intense 12 months across the world. Can’t wait to share this blood sweat and tears musical with you…as Australia has always held a very special place in my heart,” said Alanis Morissette.
Jagged Little Pill will open at the Theatre Royal, Sydney in September 2021. A waitlist for tickets is now available