Idina Menzel, who skyrocketed to superstardom via the Oscar-winning animated film "Frozen" — in which she sings the now-iconic "Let It Go" — is back on Broadway for the first time since her Tony-winning turn in Wicked. She reunites with original Rent co-star Anthony Rapp to sing a new score by Tony and Pulitzer-winning Next to Normal writers Kitt and Yorkey, and the cast album has finally hit shelves.
Playbill.com takes you through each track of the exciting new score, which was released this week and features Rapp and Menzel — along with an array of other acclaimed vocalists — on a recording together for the first time since 1996.
Read up on If/Then's tunes, and "tune" in this Sunday to see how the show fares at this year's Tonys, which will be broadcast live on CBS beginning at 8 PM. Don't forget to follow Playbill on Twitter and Facebook (as well as Michael Gioia, who will be on this year's red carpet) for all of your Tony coverage!
Well, it's the prologue, and it's short — even shorter than the prologue for Kitt and Yorkey's Next to Normal, which clocked in at 27 seconds, compared to the 25 seconds for If/Then.
The story begins in "What If?," where Idina Menzel's character, Elizabeth, is split in two: "Liz" (as Kate refers to her), who stays in the park for coffee and guitar music, and "Beth" (as nicknamed by Lucas), who travels to Brooklyn for a street action. The catchy opening number, though a bit confusing out of context, sets up the story and is a strong start for Menzel (skip to 3:15: "What if I'd gone there with Lucas? And then what if I answered that phone?" — between the Yorkey's smart lyrics and Menzel's riff on "that phone," the listener is already invested and re-evaluating all of his or her life choices.)
"It's a Sign"
One word: LaChanze. In the second track, we are so happy that Elizabeth decided to hang with LaChanze's character, Kate, first. LaChanze is serving the listener with belting, riffing and sass, and her last note at 2:57 will have you replaying the ending over and over again.
"A Map of New York"
In the fourth song on the album, Jerry Dixon's character, Stephen, asks Elizabeth to join forces with him for a new urban planning job, and we finally get to hear some of the unique voices of the If/Then ensemble. (Look out for standout voices in Ryann Redmond at 1:21 and Tamika Lawrence at 1:33!)
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
"You Never Know" In "You Never Know" the listener is introduced to Josh, played by a smooth-voiced James Snyder, and we are given a bit of foreshadowing when he says, "Odds are I will do what most men do and hurt you, too, cause men are men and odds are odds, although… you never know." But, hope is not lost when he sings, "The game's not over till the final inning, and I'm grinning cause this game might just end well… you never know." Cue to once again re-evaluating your life choices and over analyzing.
"Ain't No Man Manhattan"
It's Anthony Rapp's first big moment (!), and you kind of want to bop your head to the beat of this song while listening to it on your iPod and walking through the New York City streets.
"What the F**k?"
This is obviously the song that you're going to sing in your mirror the morning after that awkward one-night stand, when you wake up confused in someone else's bed. "What the f**k? What's the deal? Can I ever just feel what I feel? I'm accomplished, and I'm funny, I've got wisdom and wit and a taste for certain men who will treat me like shit…" — we've all been there! "Here I Go"
"Here I Go" is one of the sweetest songs in If/Then and inspires the listener to take risks, no matter the outcome. "You know, deep down, I'm a coward, afraid to let you in," Menzel's character sings in the first-act duet with Snyder. "But the only thing more fright'ning is to say, 'What might have been.' So here I go."
"You Don't Need to Love Me"
Feeling inspired from "Here I Go," the listener is suddenly hit with one of the most melancholy songs in the musical, where Rapp's character pleads for a love that will never be. Rapp's performance of this song — both in the show and on the album — is heartbreaking.
"No More Wasted Time"
This one is a fun number from the ladies of If/Then (led by Tony winner LaChanze and featuring Menzel, Lawrence and Jenn Colella), and the writers are clearly amp-ing up for the conclusion of the show's first act. There are some great harmonies at the end of the tune, and the orchestra sounds fantastic.
The worlds of "Liz" and "Beth" are colliding in the first-act finale, and [SPOILER!] we learn that both of Elizabeth's halves are pregnant. This song has a bunch of dialogue, but starts to fill in the gaps if the listener hasn't seen the production live.
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
"This Day/Walking by a Wedding" An exciting start to the show's second act, "This Day/Walking by a Wedding" switches between an ensemble-driven number and a touching solo moment for Menzel. The only problem is that the song fades out at the end, and it makes the listener wonder how it ended on stage. Isn't a fade out illegal on a cast album?
In "Hey, Kid" Snyder's character is singing to his newborn baby, and musically, it's reminiscent to the moment in Next to Normal when Dan is singing to Gabe in "I Am the One (Reprise)," except way less dramatic.
"Some Other Me"
"Some Other Me" is one of the best tunes in the show and one of the most polished recordings on the album. In a heartfelt duet, Menzel and Rapp's characters look back at their lives and recount all of their "If/Then" moments. The beauty of the song begins at :55, when Menzel sings, "Some other me is homeless; some other me is Queen; some other me has seen things that no other me has seen. If I met her, I would ask her that one question we both fear: Some Other Me, How'd we end up here?" (Cue to re-evaluating your life choices for a third time!) This song is also special for the Rentheads out there — finally a duet for Menzel and Rapp! "Best Worst Mistake"
In "Best Worst Mistake" the listener finally meets David, Lucas' boyfriend played by the ever-so-charming Jason Tam, who vocalizes his love for Lucas. Sports metaphors in a love song between two guys? We love it!
"I Hate You"
"I hate you. I hate you. I love you. I hate you. Don't do it. I need you. Forget it. I know you. My God, how I hate you. Don't leave me. I love you. Don't say that you love me 'cause what does it matter?" Oh, gosh! We're going through it — enough said.
"A Map of New York (Reprise)"
Dixon resurfaces in the reprise. We missed his voice! (Did you know that he was also part of a Jonathan Larson musical? He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his performance in tick, tick…BOOM!)
"You Learn to Live Without"
"You Learn to Live Without" is a beautifully crafted song about how we learn to live on after suffering loss. It's reminiscent of Larson's "Without You" from Rent, when the character of Mimi recounts the mundane events of life — and how they go on, despite tragic loss.
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
"The Moment Explodes" "The Moment Explodes" is a very dramatic and suspense-driven moment in If/Then. It's hard to understand this one if you haven't seen the show, especially when the song begins with, "The engine stops… The plane drops… The moment explodes…" We don't want to give too much away, so we'll stop there!
"Love While You Can"
In "Love While You Can," the listener realizes that Anne and Kate are having marital problems, and Beth is offering some advice. The upside of Anne and Kate's issues is that we get to hear tons of belting and harmony from Colella and LaChanze, plus they give some great advice — "Love and keep on living when the shit hits the fan. Love and be forgiving… Love while you can."
"What Would You Do?"
A solo moment for Jason Tam! This song also makes the listener put his or her thinking caps on: "If you met him tomorrow and knew you would lose him, if you saw him and saw all the hurt you would know, would you hold him while you had him — or let him go?" What would you do?
"Always Starting Over"
Idina Menzel's 11-o'clock number! Her performance on the album is just as epic as it is in the theatre. You'll definitely go "through it" with this one!
"What If? (Reprise)"
The show has come to a conclusion, and we no longer wonder what would have happened if she'd "gone there with Lucas" or "stayed there with Kate." However, as the song goes, we learn, "You choose and then everything changes, take a breath and then fly off the cliff, and you know that there's no turning back… And, you wonder, What if?"
(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)