What if you could see where your choices took you? That is the idea behind the hit musical “If/Then”, currently being performed at the Kimmel Center. The musical follows Elizabeth as she returns to New York City and is faced with choices that ultimately affect her life. We chat with Tony winning composer, Tom Kitt about what makes this show so special as well as some of his musical influences.
What makes “If/Then” different from the other shows you have written in the past?
First and foremost would be the basic conception of this — of the story telling. I have never written a show where we basically told two stories at once. With a character’s life split into two so theatrically, we had to figure out a language for that magical realism.
The concept of the show is so different than anything on Broadway. How difficult was it for you to write two stories musically?
It definitely was a challenge because there are lots of different ways you can go. For instance, you can say that musically in this world she is this kind of music —like she sings in a jazz style—or in this life she sings in a rock style. But I didn’t want to be that black and white about it because it is still the same person. Really what the music wanted to do was support the things that are happening in her life at that time.
The core of this show is about choices. Do you believe our choices define who we are?
I think that is a great part of who we are — what motivates us to make those choices and how we prioritize things in our life. But I definitely think that everyday we’re faced with a number of choices of what we could do. For me this morning, I had a great desire to go to work but I had my family here so I choose to have breakfast with them and that felt so gratifying and wonderful for me. I could always be working but I haven’t seen them in a while and that is choice that will impact the rest of my day in terms of how I am feeling. I think what the show wants to encourage is wherever you are in your life, embrace those choices and make bold choices. Don’t think about it too much but go with your heart. That is how you truly live.