“If/Then” will also be the first Broadway production by the composer Tom Kitt and the lyricist and book writer Brian Yorkey since their critically acclaimed 2009 musical, “Next to Normal,” which won three Tonys – including one for best score – as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Like “Next to Normal,” which centered on a mother struggling with mental illness, “If/Then” is a contemporary-sounding musical about a strongly drawn female protagonist, Elizabeth, who Ms. Menzel described in a statement as “complex, flawed, and surprising.” Beyond Elizabeth’s goals – a new home and friends, and hopes for a resurgent career – little else was revealed about the character in the announcement Thursday, although the titles of two of Elizabeth’s songs – “Here I Go” and “You Learn to Live Without” – offer some flavor. Ms. Menzel is expected to perform those songs on Friday at an American Songbook series concert featuring the work of Mr. Kitt and Mr. Yorkey.
“If/Then” boasts several creative reunions. Mr. Kitt and Mr. Yorkey are again working with their “Next to Normal” director, Michael Greif, and its producer, Mr. Stone. Mr. Greif, meanwhile, directed Ms. Menzel in 1996 in her breakout performance as Maureen in the original production of “Rent,” which earned her a Tony nomination. And Mr. Stone is a producer of “Wicked,” the international blockbuster that brought Ms. Menzel to prominence – and won her a best actress Tony – in the role of the green-skinned Elphaba, who grows up to become the Wicked Witch of the West.
Ms. Menzel, who also played Maureen in the 2005 film adaptation of “Rent” and has been a guest star in several episodes of the Fox series “Glee,” said in the statement that she had been “eager to find a project where the material was exciting and new and spoke to my heart.” “I’m thrilled to have finally found it,” added Ms. Menzel, who left the Broadway company of “Wicked” in early 2005.
Mr. Stone, in a telephone interview on Thursday, said he was attracted to the project because of the chance to work again with the four artists, and because of the material. “The show is really about how we choose our lives and how our lives choose us, themes that I find very rich and very moving,” he said.
Mr. Kitt and Mr. Yorkey wrote a six-page treatment of “If/Then” in 2008 during the out-of-town run of “Next to Normal” in Washington, Mr. Stone said, and since then they have had three developmental workshops, all involving Ms. Menzel. A fourth is planned for April, after which the team will prepare for a pre-Broadway run at the National Theater in Washington. The musical is to begin preview performances there on Nov. 5 and open on Nov. 24.
The Broadway production, which will be at a Nederlander theater to be announced later, is scheduled to begin previews on March 4, 2014, and open on March 27. Mr. Stone declined to provide a budget estimate for the show but said it would be “midsize” – which means more than the $4-million “Next to Normal” but less than the big-cast Broadway musicals that can cost around $15 million. He said the cast of “If/Then,” in its current shape, included 16 actors or so.
Idina's been singing this in the encore of her concerts since last June - this confirms what we had been suspecting: it's from her new show.