If/Then to take the road less traveled at Rotunda Theatre

Experience two musicals in one with QMT production 

The cast of If/then performing at the Rotunda Theatre. 
Credit: 
Photo supplied by QMT.

In its opening song, Queen’s MusicalTheatre’s (QMT) winter production,If/Then poses the constant question: what if?

Running from Nov. 29th to Dec. 8th in the Rotunda Theatre, the show follows Elizabeth, who moves to New York City after divorcing her husband. Upon meeting two friends in Madison Square Garden, her life splits into two timelines and different versions of herself, respectively named Liz and Beth. 

Liz meets handsome army doctor, Josh, while Beth receives a call from her old colleague, Stephen, to become a deputy city planner. 

Speaking to The Journal, the show’s director, Courtney Day, described it as both an emotional and physical marathon. Set over the course of five years, the show follows  the lives of Liz, Beth, and their friends. From marriage, having children, infidelity, to abortion and the death of a loved one, the show captures life’s highs and lows.

New York City is thebackdrop for this self-discovery, matching each momentwith physically demanding musical numbers, some of which required multiple scene changes.

To keep up with the show’s many moving parts, Day stripped back the production, relying on few props, minimalistic sets, and dialogue to establish  each change of setting. As an audience aid, the dialogue gives verbal queues to suggest the timeline it’s currently following. 

The music similarly lends itself to establishing the setting and plot. True to its musical theatre form, modern show tunes and power ballads propel the story forward. However, if you are not a fan of Sondheim, the show may still have something for you. 

The honest lyrics and raw emotion of the songs will hopefully appeal to a wide range of music tastes, regardless of past musical experience. 

In the past few years, QMT has opted for more light-hearted productions such as Avenue Q and How to Succeed in Business. This year, Day and producer, Rebecca Lebel, pursued a more mature production to challenge the performers as well as their audience. 

However, the themes of the show are still relatable.

Although Elizabeth is in her 40’s for most of the show, her journey mirrors the experience of university students. 

“[Students] are transitioning into a more independent stage of our lives, giving us so much more freedom to make our own choices and ask ourselves ‘What do I want?’” Day told The Journal through email. “This freedom can sometimes be daunting but this show teaches us to embrace our choices and to see them as possibilities.” 

It’s true: student life is filled with life-altering decisions. The uncertainty of those options is what makes them so terrifying. 

If/Then offers a rare feeling of satisfaction because it gives the audience the ability to watch a character’s alternate choices play out.

The show tries to answer life’s unknowns through a broad cast of characters navigating their own uncertain stories; each isdifferent but vital. Audience members can identifywith a character on-stage. 

The interconnected narrative shows how one person’s decision can affect others. The lives onstage have infinite possibilities, but it’s the relationships in any timeline that make the characters’ choices worthwhile.

Both timelines have their equal share of loving and failed relationships, but Elizabeth takes these connections and grows from her experience. Ultimately, her friends are there to support her. 

Day hopes students will leave the theatre, and take a moment out of their hectic day to embrace their connections with the people around them.

 

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