Workshop of new musical planned for 2014, with Broadway producer and orchestrator
(Photo: Victoria Will VICTORIA WILL/INVISION/AP)
Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY 11:03 p.m. EST November 7, 2013
One of the biggest pop albums of the past 20 years is about to find new life as a stage musical.
Alanis Morissette will adapt Jagged Little Pill, the 1995 manifesto that made the Canadian-born singer/songwriter an international star, into a musical-theater work. A workshop is planned for 2014, and Broadway veteran Tom Kitt — whose credits include a stage adaptation of another blockbuster album, Green Day’s American Idiot, as well as the original, Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal — has signed on to provide orchestrations and arrangements.
The show, also called Jagged Little Pill for now, will include all the songs from the album — among them smash hits such as You Oughta Know, Ironic, You Learn and Head Over Feet — in addition to “other songs I’ve written and released, and some I haven’t released, in the past 17 years,” Morrisette says.
Morissette also plans to write original songs for the musical, which was suggested to her by Vivek J. Tiwary, who had been a producer of American Idiot. “I’ve always had stage aspirations,” says Morissette, who as a child appeared on a TV show in Canada, and also in productions of Annie and Oliver!, she says.
In fact, she hasn’t ruled out the prospect of appearing onstage in the new Pill. She notes that Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong did a stint in the Broadway run of American Idiot, though he wasn’t in the original cast.
“I don’t know whether it would be me starting in the role or coming in at some point, but I’m totally open to the possibility of that,” Morissette says. “I think once (the book) is written, it will become more obvious whether I was born to originate the role.”
Morissette is, with Tiwary, selecting a librettist to flesh out the album’s narrative thread, inspired by the singer’s personal experience. “It’s not a concept album the way American Idiot was,” Tiwary proposes. “But there is a woman in a relationship where the other person has more power. She ends up getting dumped, and is vilified, but comes to a place of empowerment.”
The show, he says, “may increase the stakes of the conflict. There could be narrative twists.”
For Morissette, it’s “all about having chemistry” with her collaborators, “with all of us exploring the exploitation and sadness and loss and empowerment and all these beautiful flavors of my humanity…I’m happy to provide all the autobiographical experiences, but if there are fictitious elements brought in, that would be fine.”
She quips, “I have no fantasy of this being my one-woman show — though I would like to do that at some point down the road.”
While Vivek definitely has Broadway in mind as a destination for Pill, he adds, “I believe that you don’t pick your stage until you have your book.” American Idiot, he notes, premiered at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre before heading to the Main Stem. “I’m a big fan of launching shows elsewhere. But I’m sure (Pill) will have strong Broadway potential.”
Morissette, in the meantime, is working on a book of stories expanding on her song lyrics; she’ll begin work on the musical — and another album — once that is completed.
“I’ve got a lot of itches to scratch,” she admits. But she’s eager to get started on the stage project. “I’ll be a huge student, looking to my mentors. I’m honored to have the opportunity.”