Now Showing at DPAC: ‘If/Then’ Explores The Road Not Traveled
National Tour of If/Then (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Do you ever find yourself wondering what might have been? Is your destiny bound by fate, or are your daily decisions constantly creating potential new outcomes for your future? Tuesday night’s opening of If/Then, which runs through Memorial Day weekend at the Durham Performing Arts Center left me pondering these very questions. Based on a book by Brian Yorkey, this original Broadway musical follows two possible life paths of Elizabeth (played by the fantastic Jackie Burns), a thirty-something urban planner who has relocated to New York City for a fresh start after a failed marriage and dead end job in Phoenix.
The show explores how sometimes even seemingly minor decisions can have ripple effects taking your life into different possible directions. In the opening scene Elizabeth’s choices in the span of just 30 seconds set two possible futures into motion. Does she answer a call from an unknown number and land her dream job as director of city planning or let it go to voicemail and instead become a teacher? Does she go with her friend Kate (Tamyra Gray) to listen to music in the park, which leads to a chance encounter with Josh (Matthew Hydzik) her future husband and father of her children, or does she go with her old college friend Lucas (Anthony Rapp) to attend a protest and remain single?
Jackie Burns & Matthew Hydzik (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Every choice has a consequence and If/Then takes the audience down that road of what might have been. You might think it would be confusing to follow, but the producers use little tricks like having Elizabeth adopt two different nicknames ‘Beth/Liz’ or having her character wear glasses in one potential future to help distinguish the alternate timelines. Jackie Burns strong singing voice and acting are well suited for in the center role and she handles it