Jagged Little Pill: The Musical, Unravels a Family's Secrets to Music by Alanis Morissette

Lauren Chanel and the company of the North American tour of Jagged Little Pill: The Musical.
Lauren Chanel and the company of the North American tour of Jagged Little Pill: The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmermann for MurphyMade

Families with secrets have been a mainstay of theater scripts for years upon years. In Jagged Little Pill: The Musical now on its way to the Hobby Center courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars, it's the Healy family that's trying to navigate its way through modern life.

And like classic theater, the friction required for good drama and comedy means that's not the smoothest of roads.

What makes this Tony Award winning musical all the more effective is that it's been set to the music of Alanis Morissette (with Glen Ballad and additional music by Michael Farrell and Guy Sigsworth) with playwright Diablo Cody at the helm of the story.

Lauren Chanel plays the role of daughter Frankie Healy who she describes as a Black girl adopted by a white family. Her mom is Mary Jane who goes by MJ, her dad is Steve and her brother is Nick and they live in Connecticut. "We all have our own struggles. A range starts from things like addiction to arguing with parents to sexual assault. It's trying to find a good balance between all of us," Chanel says.

Chanel, who is from Atlanta, had seen the musical on Broadway — it was in previews in November 2019 but had to close because of the pandemic and reopened in October 2021 — and "fell in awe of  it," she says. "I'd just never seen a show that was holding a mirror up to the audience of real life reality — everybody's issues that everybody has or knows someone that has."

Chanel's mother is a minister and she grew up singing in the church, she says. She added dancing and acting a bit later and says she likes the complete package that working in musicals offers. Growing up, her favorite shows were High School Musical, Camp Rock and Cheetah Girls.  This is her first national tour, although she'd previously done a regional one with Once on This Island. There are 24 actors in the cast for the two-act, some of them in the ensemble, she says.

"This is a totally different show. Jagged Little Pill is very raw; it's very real. This is no sweet cookie cutter show that normally I'm used to. The last thing I did was Once on This Island and Hairspray and they're all very sweet and this is the opposite.

"I think that no one ever really acknowledges the messy parts of yourself or of others. I think this is just a show that really at the end of the day says 'Give breaks to yourself and others'. There could be a positive outcome or not; it's just very honest," she says. "We do such an everyday job as humans of concealing."

Throughout the show those concealments are unraveled, she says.

"Diablo Cody, who wrote it, she does a beautiful job of the roller coaster ride. There will be laughs, there'll be some sad moments. You'll end up feeling relieved.  Bring your tissues and be ready for the ride."

Performances are scheduled for August 29 through September 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For more information, visit $40-$145.
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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