‘Jagged Little Pill’ kicks off 2023 theater season at Academy of Music

Jagged Little Pill
Jade McLeod stars in ‘Jagged Little Pill’, coming to the Academy of Music on the Kimmel Cultural Campus in January.
Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

‘Jagged Little Pill’ starts its January run at the Academy of Music on the Kimmel Cultural Campus, and presents alt-rock angst at its finest. The 15-times Tony Award- nominated Broadway musical tells the story of a once-model suburban family broken apart by addiction, pornography, lousy marriage and sex, runs through with Alanis Morissette indie-rock classics such as ‘You Oughta Know,’ ‘Head Over Feet,’ ‘Hand in My Pocket,’ and ‘Ironic’ is juicy indeed. That ‘Jagged Little Pill’ closes on a grace note of empowerment and healing is, ultimately, heartwarming, despite the rough ride and rougher edges it took to get there.

Jade McLeod (Jo) and Chris Hoch (Steve) discussed the Alanis Morissette/Diablo Cody musical with Metro with a mix of awe and humor. McLeod, in particular, was thrilled to be part of ‘Jagged Little Pill’, as they – like Morissette – are Canadian.

Pictured are (from left) Heidi Blickenstaff, Allison Sheppard and Jena VanElslander in ‘Jagged Little Pill.’Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

“Alanis came and visited us when we did the show in San Francisco and reminded me of something funny: that Canadians are the most polite people until we’re not,” says McLeod with a laugh. “Then it’s nothing but big feelings.”

On turning on and tuning into ‘Jagged Little Pill’ in the first place, Hoch and McLeod come from different places.

“I was around conscious and around when Morissette’s album was first released (1995), and while I didn’t listen to top 40 stuff that the kids listen to – I still don’t – I became obsessed with ‘You Oughta Know’ when I was in theater school,” says Broadway vet Hoch. “I knew that ‘Jagged Little Pill’ was a musical waiting to happen as it told the story of what the songwriter was going through at the time. And while it didn’t have a clear narrative, you could hear how the person came through it all in a better place. Alanis wrote in a really theatrical way.”

Chris Hoch and Heidi Blickenstaff in ‘Jagged Little Pill.’Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

McLeod is more of a self-proclaimed rocker than Hoch, and believes that Morissette “changed the world of music,” with ‘Jagged Little Pill’.

“Especially for women in music, to have that angry rock voice become something that was mainstream was huge. To do this show 20+ years later and to have it resonate, is amazing. To look into the audience when I start those first few lines of ‘You Oughta Know’ is awesome. You can see them tensing up, then going ‘Oh, it’s this.’ It is a visceral reaction.”

Diablo Cody’s script – the playwright famous for the indie-comedy ‘Juno’ from 2007 – like Morissette’s score, jumps intuitively and emotionally of the page according to both actors.  

Lauren Chanel performs with the company of ‘Jagged Little Pill’.Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

“Cody is great at putting cheeky humor into even the worst of family circumstances and the most dramatic, even depressing, of scenes,” says Hoch. “Cody’s script and structure is this musical’s secret weapon.”

To this, McLeod adds their own joke. “That script makes the Pill go down that much easier. It’s so engaging, dynamic and funny with 100 different ways to play each line. ‘Jagged Little Pill’ never gets boring and never lacks for nuance and way to go about it.”

‘Jagged Little Pill’ will be on stage at the Academy of Music on the Kimmel Cultural Campus from Jan. 3 to 15. For information and tickets, visit kimmelculturalcampus.org