Printable CopyIF/THEN
Segue Productions
Star Theatres
Until 22 Sep 2018

Review by Kylie Pedler

Who has not asked the question “What if?” or considered what might have happened differently?

The new South Australian company, Segue, takes on a challenging new-age musical as its second production. “If/Then”, written by Brian Yorkey, is a story of possibilities depending on the choices we make. Segue, continuing their aim of exploring contemporary musicals and modern characters, have chosen a story that represents all sides of the love relationship, considers the possibilities of roads taken or left behind, the struggle of making those difficult choices, analysing the regret that may follow and the uncontrollable balance between choices and fate. Sound confusing? Well it is!

Following a similar concept to the movie “Sliding Doors”, the story breaks into the two parallel lives of Elizabeth (played by co-founder Kristin Stefanoff), a woman who has just returned to New York after a 12 year marriage that ended in divorce. As Liz, she embraces teaching and motherhood with Josh (Michael Butler), while as Beth she gets a high-powered job as a city planner, remaining single and a successful career woman.

There are many characters. As Elizabeth’s dual lives interact with those around her, it can be difficult to identify when the characters have changed and at times the storyline is hard to follow. A pair of glasses helps a little, worn by Liz, but a balance of greater direction, lighting changes and costuming could have provided greater assistance.

Both of Elizabeth’s lives have moments of joy, success and regret as we may wonder ‘is there ever a right path?’. Director Vanessa Redmond has done well to represent both possibilities evenly, neither with more superiority.

Another strong theme is that an individual’s choice affects the lives of those around them as well, as is considered in the love story of Anne and Kate, and Lucas and David. Anthony Vawser as Lucas is perfectly awkward and well matched with Gus Robson, his love interest David. Couple Anne (Alicia Hage) and Kate (Kelsey McCormack) share some beautifully blended moments contrasted with their relationship tension in their alternative story.

The production is carried along by songs which are emotional and thought provoking, beautiful and modern; however, there are many of them, which slows down the action. As the two different scenarios sometimes unfold consecutively mid-song this can be confusing. Kristen’s voice is hauntingly emotional, in “What the F*ck?”, “I Hate You/I Love You”, and “Always Starting Over”. Hage and McCormack’s “Love While You Can” is a standout. And Michael Butler as Josh is exceptional. His voice commands and his character is the much needed stability in the complicated storyline while perfectly capturing the sensitivity and trauma behind having returned from his second tour of duty.

The band, under the direction of the company’s other co-founder Ben Stefanoff, is in fine form although a little overbearing at times making it difficult to define the lyrics in some songs. While the choreography, by Rebekah Stonelaitken, seems out of place at times, it is well polished and does reflect the feel of the original Broadway production. Limited space and entrances are used with thought as part of the auditorium is also used, bringing the story into a closer connection with the audience. However, when the ensemble is also involved in the large numbers, the exits can be clunky.

As a small-scale company, Segue should be commended for taking on such challenging material. As this reviewer saw the final night performance, you have missed this one, but are highly recommended to look out for their 2019 production “Heathers”.

Anthony Vawser is a reviewer for Adelaide Theatre Guide.