Musical ponders the paths not taken



We’ve all had a moment where we stop and think “what could have been” if we acted outside of our comfort zone, chose one opportunity over another or took the road less traveled. The protagonist of “If/Then,” Elizabeth (Jackie Burns) takes us on a journey where we don’t have to wonder but we see how one decision leads to another.

At 38-years-old, newly divorced Elizabeth travels to New York City to make her mark and start anew. So, we follow “Beth,” a neurotic, Type A, organized professional and “Liz,” a sexy, free spirited, follow your heart type as they pursue their new beginning. As an audience, we realize how our choices and the people around us impact everything that happens, whether you believe in fate or not.

The audience reacted to Liz/Beth in every new scenario. The feeling that we’ve all “been there, done that” at one point in our lives brought both laughter and tears as we connected to the lead. During one scene in the first act, the theater roared with laughter as Elizabeth delivered a flawless musical number outlining the rollercoaster of emotions when you make an impulsive decision and you find yourself looking back thinking “what did I just do.” The message of her lyrics and delivery of the scene made it incredibly entertaining.

In the second act, the plot takes a turn from its light-hearted wit when tragedy strikes. The audience was silent as our eyes followed Elizabeth around the stage hanging on her every word.

The dynamic, interactive stage set was always changing to bring you to each distinct location, whether it be Madison Park in New York, a malfunctioning subway ride, or thousands of feet into the sky on an airplane it allowed the audience to forget we were anchored in Hartford, Conn. and travel alongside the characters. Not only did the set design bring you directly to the setting but it also aided in following the double-personality theme of the plot. The shifting of props and people assisted the audience in keeping situations straight making it not burdensome to try and follow each scenario as it changed.

Elizabeth’s best friends Kate (Tamyra Gray) and Lucas (Anthony Rapp) both embodied their character’s quirks and mannerisms, assisting Liz/Beth through her unique journey. The special relationships she has with these two as well as others in the cast like Stephen (Jacques C. Smith,) an old friend who works in the city planner’s office and Josh (Matthew Hydzik,) a love interest, shows the audience how the existence of others affects yourself, which is a common theme throughout the show. Had the performers in these roles not completely submerged themselves in each unique personality, this theme wouldn’t have been portrayed as successfully as it was.

The vocals were effortless from both the lead and her cast. The dancing and movements from the remainder of the Cast directly aligned with the lively, swift movements of New York City. Choreographer Larry Keigwin utilized partner work and foot work to create the vision of the spirited New York City population.

I give “If/Then” at the Bushnell four out of four stars.performance

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