If you want to see a Broadway show with all its original stars, you usually have to go to New York.
Not so with If/Then.
Even among the star-studded world of Broadway musical casts, If/Then‘s original lineup is impressive. Idina Menzel plays the show’s protagonist, an urban planner named Elizabeth. A few years ago, you’d have been forgiven if you didn’t know Menzel’s name. She’s been one of Broadway’s biggest stars for awhile—originating the role of Maureen in Rent in 1996 and Elphaba (better known as the Wicked Witch of the West) in Wicked in 2003—but her meteoric rise to mainstream fame didn’t come until 2013, when she voiced Queen Elsa in a little movie called Frozen. If/Then marked her return to the Broadway stage, and she was accompanied by a gaggle of other stars. Menzel’s Rent costar, Anthony Rapp, played Lucas; Broadway vet James Snyder played Josh; and LaChanze, the 2006 Tony Award winner for her starring turn as Celie in The Color Purple, took the stage as Kate.
If/Then ran from March 2014 to March 2015 on Broadway, and, in August, the producers announced a nearly unprecedented move in Broadway history: All four of the show’s principal actors would be reuniting for the national tour. If/Then is thought to be the first show of the modern Broadway era to take all of its principal cast on tour, meaning that every city the tour stops in will be making history—and the tour’s first stop is right here in Denver.
The show opened at the Denver Performing Arts Complex’s (DCPA) Buell Theater last week, and the stars explained why taking the show on the road was so important to them. “More and more people are catching on to the brilliance that this story has,” LaChanze says. “As we have this opportunity to go to different cities, people get to see this great story, and it just keeps growing and growing and growing. It has such a life and such a future.”
The story of If/Then revolves around Menzel’s Elizabeth, who moves to New York City after a divorce. One of her friends (LaChanze’s Kate) suggests she adopt the nickname Liz and reinvent herself in the city. Another (Rapp’s Lucas) suggests she go back to her college nickname, Beth, and start building her career. The show unfolds to show what happens to Elizabeth in both potential stories: if she becomes Beth and if she becomes Liz. It’s a complex story and, at times, a challenging one—leave your younger Elsa fans at home when coming to this performance—but it makes for a show that cast and audiences agree has something special.
“We love our show,” Menzel says. “We love what it says, we see how it connects and resonates with people, and we want more people to experience it.”
If/Then is playing at the Buell Theater now through October 25. Tickets can be purchased here.