It is not every day that we have a chance to see Broadway caliber performances here in our creative capitol. PPAC is changing that this weekend with the national tour of If/Then. This beautiful show ran for a year on Broadway and is completing its tour in New England, with three of the Broadway performers, Jackie Burns, Anthony Rapp and Tamara Gray. It’s exciting for audience members, and it’s also exciting for those in the theater. Caitlyn Dipompo, PPAC’s marketing projects specialist notes, “There is additional excitement around the theater when OBC members perform here. Not everyone has the chance to see these productions on Broadway with the original cast, so it is really special for people to see someone like Anthony Rapp or Jackie Burns right here in Providence, at their hometown theater.” Rapp, theatergoers will know from RENT, as Marc Cohen, and longtime PPAC audience members will remember his reprisal of that role in 2009 on tour. Burns stepped in for powerhouse Idina Menzel on Broadway, and took over Menzel’s leg of the national tour. Of course a musical that originally starred Menzel and Rapp will make even the novice RENThead reminiscent for Jonathan’s Larson’s musical. Rapp acknowledges that “there is some DNA they both share, and that many fans have remarked that and it’s very meaningful to Tom (Kitt) and Brian (Yorkey).”
As an actress, you know that any role written for Idina Menzel is going to be pretty darn fabulous. This is something that Burns repeats with a smile. Where does an actress go after playing Elpheba and now Elizabeth? Are there any dream roles left? “I would love to originate my own role. Or Evita!” With Burns’ easy-going attitude and comedic timing, there has to be a playwright out there ready to accommodate her. I assume the same of Rapp, after all his resume is what every theater major dreams of; RENT, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, If/Then, Psych the Musical (OK, the last one may be something I am in love with! Musical comedy on my television? Yes please!) But even a seasoned performer has those dream roles out there. “The Emcee. Iago.” to which Burns pipes up not only her support, but casts herself as Desdemona.
As for If/Then, it is not Wicked. It is as Rapp notes a piece of theater “that holds a mirror up [to the audience].” Although the audience will hear beautiful songs, this Kitt and Yorkey’s show is a piece of art that makes you think. “I believe in the show strongly, and I made it my mission to represent for it and share it,” Rapp states while noting that reception for this show has been good, even in more conservative parts of the country.
At a time when we see Broadway tickets ranging from $199 to $10,000 thanks to scalpers (I’m looking at you, Hamilton), it is a relief to know that Broadway theater is affordable, right up the road from your house! Dipompo notes, “Student/Senior rush is available for all performances. Come to the Box Office two hours before curtain time with a valid student or senior ID to purchase tickets 50% off. This is a CASH ONLY sale, and tickets are subject to availability for limited locations.”
If/Then runs thru June 19. Call the box office at 401-421-ARTS (2787), or order tickets online at ppac.ri.org