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Lauren Chanel and Rishi Golani on North American tour Jagged Little Pill

This story appears in the March 8 print issue of CityBeat.

Alanis Morissette’s 1995 alt-rock album. Jagged Little Pill, became her first worldwide release. A mix of post-grunge and pop-rock, the record topped the charts in 13 countries and won the 1995 Grammy Award for Album of the Year for Morissette, who was just 21 at the time. She contributed her songs to an acoustic re-recording released in 2005, and a couple of re-releases of the original took place in 2015 and 2020.

Jagged Little Pill has been popular for over 25 years. Recently, his songs became the score for a Broadway musical about a modern family struggling to maintain their reputation while dealing with addiction and trauma. After opening in late 2019, it was interrupted by the global pandemic, but returned in the fall of 2021 with a staggering 15 Tony Award nominations in 2020, including Best Musical. He is currently on tour and will have a week-long stop at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati during the last week of March.

Jagged Little PillThe story revolves around rebellious Frankie, an adopted bisexual black teenager, and her white suburban family – parents, Mary Jane, called “MJ” and Steve, who hide their addictions, and son Nick, who is forced to be perfect to maintain a reputation family. Frankie resents that her mother doesn’t understand. She writes for a lesson at school, which causes criticism from her classmates. But a new student, Phoenix, urges her to finish, and they begin a romantic relationship.

Rishi Golani, 20, stars as Phoenix in the touring production, which opened last fall. After studying musical theater for two years at New York’s Pace University, the Los Angeles native was recently accepted into the prestigious musical theater program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). He planned to move to Cincinnati last fall, but was surprised to be accepted Jagged Little Pillthe cast is touring, so it has delayed its registration until 2024; he plans to graduate from CCM in 2026. CityBeat recently interviewed him while he was performing in Detroit. He’s not entirely sure how he ended up being called to audition while he was packing for the move to Cincinnati.

The casting director suggested Golani send a tape for an audition. “It was like me and 500 guys on callbacks. A few days later, I got the part. I was shocked at how fast it happened.” Rehearsals began in August 2022, and a month later the tour began. He recently plucked up the courage to ask a casting director how he found a young actor. “I thought you obeyed us,” they told him. But he was approached, so Golani asked for more. The casting director admitted that they had a hard time finding an actor who could sing the high part. “Maybe we just happened to stumble upon your profile.” Despite this, Galani is enjoying being in a touring show this early in his career.

“The show really embraces the importance of what it means to be a family,” says Golani, “that they mean to each other and take care of each other. We don’t always know what affects someone – often people are afraid to say what they are going through because they want to be strong. They think others won’t care or listen. It’s a story about empathy and acceptance.”

Morissette’s album came out before Galani was born, but he is impressed with the music. “It’s all about freedom of expression and rebellion, making a statement about who you are in the world. It’s about being human.” He wasn’t familiar with the album before he was hired, but he listened to it a lot now. “Music really holds. People of my generation can come and get another generation’s perspective. Music connects our generation with theirs.”

His hero, Phoenix, is the new kid at school. “He keeps his head down,” Golani says. “Every time the director and I talked about him, he said that Phoenix is ​​one of those kids who has to grow up faster than the kids around him. He could not afford to be a child. In his family he had to play the role of father, brother and son. This is the story of many children who have to fill these roles.”

Golani appreciates Phoenix’s intelligence and sensitivity. He is in the scene after the other students criticize Frankie for what she wrote. “Phoenix hears it and loves it. He is not in love with the girl, but with the way her works affect him. He really appreciates what most people take for granted.”

The song “Ironic” is used in the scene. Golani notes that critics have said that Morisset is misusing the word. This opinion is attributed to Frankie’s classmates on the show. “Her writing is actually very strong, and the song itself is a great piece of music, great storytelling.” The show has some dark and heavy songs, so he appreciates that it’s fun. “It’s a groove, a jam, a good time. The audience really likes it. It’s an upbeat song that celebrates writing.”

Golani says he appreciates the message of the show that Rishi is taking on. “You have to slow down and appreciate what you have and make things bigger than they are. When Phoenix talks about his family’s problems, he realizes what life is all about. He will better appreciate the moments he has and move forward. Even though he doesn’t state it on the show, people can tell that Phoenix is ​​adamant. He is ready to go forward. This is a really good message.

“The show and this music is a great bridge to connect people,” says Golani. “I hope people who are on the fence will come see it. There is nothing more important than trying something new.” Wise words of a 20-year-old young man.

Tour production Jagged Little Pill will be presented on Broadway in Cincinnati at the Aronow Center for the Arts from March 28th to April 2nd.

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