They became the psyches of the characters.” Cody wrote the show giving the integral 11 o’clock number, “You Oughta Know,” to a supporting female character. When Pill ran at Cambridge the hit was known to steal the show to the point that Paulus changed lighting cues to try to shorten the audience’s lengthy, exuberant reactions. “It’s interesting because we were far into the process when it occurred to me that that’s pretty unusual,” says Cody. “The character, Jo, functions as a comic relief, the best friend with the witty asides. So you think you’re seeing something familiar, but in reality those witty asides are masking a great deal of pain that is bubbling underneath the entire show until it explodes. I try to take traditional supporting character roles and turn them on their side, making them more meaningful.” Paulus, Cody and Morissette wanted a show that, above all else, spoke to the human condition and reminds people that they’re all in this world together. When Pill opened in 2018, Cody remembers the team hoping they could get to Broadway faster as the show touched on movements such as stands against gun violence – topics they assumed would lose relevance in years to come. “Then we realized, sadly, that it was all still going to be significant when we got to Broadway. I feel like the #MeToo conversation rages on, and the issue of gun violence is still in there, albeit in a different way.” Cody embraces the fact that a few early viewers felt the show dealt with too many topics. “When I heard that I said, ‘Yeah, and we’re going to keep doing that. We’re going to double down. This is what we are. I’m not going to pretend this show is light entertainment. I think there are some people who think that it is a show about Alanis Morissette, and that it might be poppy and fun.” Though Pill does have some “poppy” moments, it is not an accurate description of the experience one can expect at the show. “It’s really a story about how all of us are susceptible to this practice where we try to bury our problems, deny them, close our eyes and stick our heads in the sand like ostriches,” adds Cody. “I was like that for
family and relationships?’” “Women bring a certain energy to a project, especially someone like Alanis, who is deeply empathetic and extremely interested in human behavior and is not driven by money or by a desire for fame,” adds Cody. “Alanis is a seeker for truth. So being welcomed with Diane and Tom Kitt, we were really able to dig deep into the characters in a way that did feel connected with the sacred feminine. I felt like our way of approaching the story was very rounded and spiritual. That’s what you get with Alanis Morissette.” Morissette agrees, adding that the process of creating the show was “tinged with giddiness, terror, surrender, wild passion, joy and light.” Cody hopes that Pill audiences take away a similar energy and that they come away from the show having had a meaningful experience. “I want people to forgive themselves and other people, and to be kinder to themselves and other people,” she says, emphatically. “I want people to realize that they’re not alone, and that there are many people out there projecting an image of perfection [through social media] and it’s meaningless. These curated bios we see online are not reality. If people take that with them I will have done my job.” * –– Iris Wiener is an entertainment writer and theater critic. Visit her at IrisWiener.com or on Twitter @Iris_Wiener.
DIABLO CODY, ALANIS MORISSETTE, DIANE PAULUS PHOTO BYMATTHEWMURPHY
a very long time, even just in terms of the political situation. I used to be almost proud of how apathetic I was about the things that were happening in the world, and I can’t do that anymore. That’s a universal thing.” “We’re all connected and we are all a part of the universe we’re living in,” says Paulus of the underlying impetus for the show. “We’re all complicit in what’s happening in the world today. I have learned from Alanis over the last couple of years that there’s no way to heal in isolation, and that we have to do it in the presence of other people and in relation to each other. That’s what goes on in the show and that’s not always easy.” Perhaps some of the show’s incisive depth can be credited to the rarity of having three women at its helm. Though the creative team is also comprised of Kitt and choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (both men), Paulus and Cody recognize how the female dynamic was influential on the creation of Pill. “It was definitely a big moment in the process when it was Diablo, Alanis and me talking to each other, because we’re not only women but three mothers with kids,” says Paulus, who notes that Morissette wrote the music when she was 19 years old. “That’s when the depth of the musical went to it not being about teenagers. I think because we were all coming to the album now, twenty plus years later, it was so interesting that the three of us were going, ‘Okay, what does this album mean to us now as women who are not teenagers anymore, women who are dealing with
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