Theater: ‘If’ not bad, ‘Then’ just OK

If/Then Idina Menzel Anthony Rapp
“If/Then” mirrors the movie “Sliding Doors,” but on an even more superficial level.
Credit: Joan Marcus

If not for its stars, then the new musical “If/Then” might never have made it to Broadway. Former “Rent” co-stars Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp, who’ve been working on the show together for about two and a half years, are popular enough with theater geeks to get butts in the seats. But will it be enough to keep the show open once the reviews come in?

The plot follows 40-something Elizabeth (Menzel), who has to choose between two friends on a fateful day in Madison Square Park. When she goes one way, it brings her to marriage and family; when she chooses the other, she winds up professionally successful and romantically fraught. (It begs the uninspired question of whether a woman can have it all. Could the shallow inspection of this tired premise have something to do with the all-male creative team? Director Michael Greif, composer Tom Kitt and book writer/lyricist Brian Yorkey worked together previously on “Next to Normal,” to much greater success.) Different nicknames and a pair of eyeglasses (that our heroine has to mysteriously don in one universe) are meant to help us keep track of the muddled storylines.

The music is fine and sometimes even good, but it lacks memorable melodies and eventually blurs together during the nearly three-hour show. If anything, the songs are strongest because of some surprising comedic moments that come out of the lyrics. If the show pushed the envelope past a few strategically placed F-words, maybe we’d have something. As it is, the moment the show gets close to having some edge, it immediately scuttles back into the safe platitudes of love and friendship or jokes about living in NYC.

The set, while it creates some lovely tableaus (such as the picture above), fails to utilize the space or add depth to the story. The mirror that sometimes serves as a roof is predictably symbolic, but it merely cuts the story in half rather than doubling it. Vertical space is not used very well, and never concurrently with the floorboards. It’s almost as if the designer couldn’t take on the whole picture at once, which is disappointing in a generous Broadway house.

Another area that could use some work is the choreography, which mostly consists of people jumping and swiveling around. It’s the Broadway debut for choreographer Larry Keigwin (another male), but he doesn’t leap at the chance to show off.

So while the leads are strong — including the memorable LaChanze as outgoing lesbian Kate, plus relative newcomer James Snyder as the ill-fated love interest — it’s really the creative team that lets this show down. With a stronger message and more respect for the modern audience, this concept could have guaranteed itself a prolonged home at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. But that’s another reality, and sadly not the path this production chose to take.

If you go

Open-ended run
Richard Rodgers Theatre
226 W. 46th St.

Follow T. Michelle Murphy on Twitter: @TMichelleMurphy


Interfaith leaders denounce anti-Muslim harassment in Brooklyn

Community leaders of all faiths gathered in Brooklyn on Tuesday to push back on what they described as hateful acts against the local Muslim community.


Parched Texas town turns to sewage water to…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - When the going got tough due one of with worst droughts in a century, the parched Texas city of Wichita…


NYPD: Robber makes elderly man drive to Queens…

A robber grabbed an elderly man's neck outside a Queens supermarket, stole his wallet and made him drive to ATMs for withdrawals last week, police said.


Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.


'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.


PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.


Theater: “Love and Human Remains” is like a…

"Love and Human Remains" is the worst show we've ever not walked out of.


Review: 'A Most Wanted Man' works better when…

In one of his last roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman headlines the John Le Carre adaptation of "A Most Wanted Man," about the pursuit of a Chechen refugee.


MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack


2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?


5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.


'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.


5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.


Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…


Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.


Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.