Janine DiVita in best new musical of the year-‘If/Then’ come to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Following a short but sweet Broadway run, the season’s hot ticket item, “If/Then,” which critics are billing “Best New Musical of the Year” will be at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Jan. 19 -24. And as an added bonus for theater buffs, in seven select cities only, the touring company features a star studded company that includes four of the original Broadway cast members. Costa Mesa is the final stop for Tony-award winners Idina Menzel (Wicked), and LaChanze (The Color Purple), with co-stars Anthony Rapp, and James Snyder before the intense musical about New York City and life changing decisions travels on. Superstar Menzel says she is excited. “I’m so thrilled to launch the show’s national Tour and to send it across the across the county and the world," Menzel said. "I am very much looking forward to sharing this original musical with Broadway fans who weren’t able to travel to New York and see it there.” The New Yorker magazine says of “If/Then” that “in its formal daring, and in the intelligence of its execution, it moves into new territory with intense and thrilling results… You absolutely never know what is going to happen, right up to the last, powerfully moving beat.” New York actress Janine DiVita is a natural stepping into the role of Anne in this brave new musical which showcases the intensity and vitality of the city that never sleeps. After majoring in musical theater and communications at the University of Michigan, Broadway beckoned and DiVita moved to the Big Apple where she landed roles as diverse as Rizzo (Grease) to Reno (u/s in Anything Goes). The versatile actress, who recently shot “Boy Choir” opposite Dustin Hoffman, says “acting, singing and dancing are essential skills for a performer but you need to be an actor first to keep the other two fine-tuned.” The backdrop for “If/Then” is the City and its constantly changing energy which is a metaphor for the heroine’s (Menzel as Beth/Liz) twin re-birth. For DiVita, being a New Yorker makes the narrative authentic, she says. “The subject matter is familiar because it’s all about lives intertwining and our choices," DiVita said. "This is a city of opportunities where you are always meeting new people and interacting with them. The spirit of New York comes through in the staging, music and direction of our show. One of the storylines is about far Westside development to extend the subway and this is happening in real time as Hi-Rises continue being built. It’s very cool that I have this actual experience to draw upon for my character.” Tim Kitt wrote the music based on the idea that “New York is a place where people hope to find their calling because every day there is the potential for something to happen that is life changing.” This is a statement that DiVita agrees with 100 percent, saying, “the show is life changing, it makes you grateful for your life and hopeful for a future where anything is possible. One of my favorite lines is ‘you learn how to love the not knowing, so here I go.” There are major shifts in fortune in “If/Then” that result from the most insignificant of actions and this is what makes it such a compelling story. DiVita describes the musical as being about chance, choices and fate as well as love and relationships. As Anne, a central character, she is tied to the lead Elizabeth and it is her purpose to support Liz/Beth in the journey to find herself. Anne is in a relationship with Elizabeth’s friend Kate (LaChanze) and she, too, makes choices that influence other characters in small ways. She is Kate’s wife in a lesbian relationship, which she says “is not what’s really important; love is love and I appreciate the diversity in the storyline and the realistic loving way it is portrayed.” The main character is Elizabeth and the musical follows parallel paths as two stories unfold simultaneously. This modern woman faces the crossing of choice and chance in alternative existences of what might have been and what could be. There are clues to aid audience awareness of the on-going occurrences in the entangled scenarios. Audiences recognize natural, loving Beth by her glasses and business woman Liz when she’s without them. DiVita has an interesting take on her character. “Anne, unlike Elizabeth, doesn’t necessarily have dual personalities," DiVita said. "The only difference for me is that my relationships with Beth/Liz are different in each storyline and this affects my character. It’s fulfilling and fascinating as an actor to play a character who’s essence remains the same while she’s on different paths and has different personality traits.” “If/Then” is an intellectual, smart show about which Menzel says, “This musical is about a woman restarting and reshaping her life and it explores a lot of intense themes that are close to my heart.” DiVita concurs. “It’s a very personal show on many levels and you feel it. It’s impossible not to bring yourself and your own experiences to it because it is so personal,” said DiVita. DiVita, who has been touring with “If/Then” as Anne and as an understudy to the lead Elizabeth since the beginning says, “road audiences seem to respond more to the humor then their New York counterparts, especially the romantic comedy aspects which really shine. It’s about new beginnings and the comedy and tragedy in the show are reflective of life, it’s very relationable. This is a powerful musical that gladdens the heart with its sincere message that life is beautiful and there are always second chances.” The absolutely fascinating and stimulating musical “If/Then” with an all-star Broadway cast is at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Jan. 19-24, 2016. For tickets and information: in person, the box office is located at 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, California 92626; Phone 714 -556-2787; Online, scfta.org. Office and phone hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

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