Has Alanis Morissette Made the Most Woke Musical Since ‘Hair’?

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Everyone seems to have a story about hearing Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” for the very first time. The writer Diablo Cody was listening to the radio when a D.J. said, “This particular can be going to be huge.” The composer Tom Kitt was in college, feeling like the whole world had stopped. I was a kid who got grounded for accidentally saying the F-word while singing along to “You Oughta Know.”

The album’s parade of fearlessly raw hits was as integral to ’90s pop culture as AOL promo disks as well as Doc Martens. Its success vindicated Ms. Morissette, who was previously rejected by radio stations saying they didn’t need another woman after Sinead O’Connor as well as Tori Amos. “For those inside the patriarchy who thought women were not bankable,” she recalled in a recent interview, “that will went out the window.”

today Ms. Morissette’s trailblazing 1995 album can be taking on brand-new life: as theater. as well as don’t expect a fun, nostalgic jukebox musical about the ’90s. “Jagged Little Pill,” which opens at the American Repertory Theater here on May 24, can be very much of the present as well as may just be the most woke musical since “Hair.”

The show tackles hot-button issues like opiate addiction, gender identity as well as sexual assault, as well as more quietly urgent ones like transracial adoption, marital bed death as well as image-consciousness. This particular also contains imagery through the Women’s March as well as the #NeverAgain gun-control movement. Picture a pageant of liberalism, with your favorite ’90s songs as the soundtrack.

“I don’t think I ever had the confidence in my younger years to say I could tell a story on the stage,” she said. “I was never an assured creator. I didn’t think I had anything to contribute.”

although Ms. Cody’s book for “Jagged Little Pill” — which strips away the picture-perfect veneer of a Connecticut family over the course of a year — can be unapologetically on brand: by turns bitingly satirical, touching as well as frank. In fact, This particular may even be a more honest reflection of her writerly mind than we typically get onscreen.

“I come through a world of parent companies as well as advertisers as well as suits as well as caution,” she said. “If I want to express a belief of my own, I’m asked to temper This particular to ensure that will we don’t alienate anyone. This particular can be the opposite.”

If there can be anything keeping Ms. Cody’s book in check, This particular’s the music itself. although part of her task has been to twist the poetic ambiguity of Ms. Morissette’s lyrics inside the service of an original story. that will means framing “Mary Jane” as a husband’s whisper over his wife’s hospital bed, or “One Hand in My Pocket” as musical theater’s prototypical “I want” song.

although sometimes the production leaves Ms. Morissette’s cherished music alone: The staging for “You Oughta Know,” sung by the scene-stealing Lauren Patten, can be so spare This particular could just as easily be an intimate concert. (At the performance I attended last week, Ms. Patten’s “You Oughta Know” stopped the show which has a minutes-long standing ovation. I was told that will This particular has been happening every night since previews began on May 5.)

“Ironic” can be sung inside the context of a high school writing workshop as well as the scene makes a joke through the elephant inside the room: decades of pedants nit-picking the song’s misuse of the word “ironic.”

“I’m probably laughing the hardest inside the audience,” Ms. Morissette said, adding that will when she worked on the song with the songwriter as well as producer Glen Ballard, “we didn’t give a [expletive] about the malapropism.”

She also didn’t think many people might even hear This particular. although once “Ironic” became a hit, there were entire website forums dedicated to shaming the song as well as — in true internet fashion — thinking of ways to murder Ms. Morissette.

“I feel like theater can be all about the present,” Ms. Paulus said. “When as well as if we get another shot at This particular inside the future, I’m sure things will change.”

although, she was quick to emphasize, any revisions based on current events might have to take their lead through Ms. Morissette’s music as well as lyrics — which, she added, actually provide a hopeful outlook inside the age of bleak push notifications.

“The pain as well as anger of my songs are all on This particular spectrum,” Ms. Morissette said. “The darker the song can be, the more that will wish can be just This particular pilot light that will was there the whole time.”