Next to Normal

A blog by @mircwalsh

Next to Normal

NEXT TO NORMAL             stars

Friday June 5 8pm

Booth Theatre 222 West 45 St. New York

Next to Normal - Arena Stage

Making its debut on Broadway Next to Normal brings light to the issue of mental health in society. Through the life of  wife and mother Diana (Alice Ripley) the audience gets a look inside the struggles of living with bipolar disease.

Alice Ripley who would three days later win a tony award brought brings the character alive with strong solos and emotional struggles. For 16 years she has been experimenting with contails of pills yet to find one that works. It is only after she starts making mass amounts of sandwiches on the floor that her husband  Dan (J.Robert Spencer)  decides it is time for her to go back to therapy.

As a caring husband Dan has been there for his wife since the beginning. He has stood by herself and he is the one that supports her. Throughout all the struggles he remains by her side and encourages her to accept reality while at the own time he is fighting is own demons.

Next to Normal also looks at the life of teenager Natalie (Jennifer Damiano). The daughter who feels neglected in the shadow of her dead brother. For her, freedom is just a sontata away as she throws herself into her studies and fights to be able to graduate early and escape the turmoil of her home life. Finding love for the first time she is reluctant to let her boyfriend Henry (Adam Chanler-Berat) making every excuse not to invite him home but in the end he is the support she needs to help her through.

In this performance  Kyle Dean Massey played the role of Gabe replacing Aaron Tveit who is on summer hiatus  . This may have been his first perfomrnance but the audience certainly were unaware of his naievity as he bellowed out the strong notes and played the part of the dead son. Fighting for his mother he  is determined not to let the pills destroy him as he battles to sway his mother and fight for his life.

To complete the cast Louis Hobson steps in in the role of Dr. Madden/ Dr. Fine. A self confessed rock star who is determined to find a solution to Diana’s problems. Trying the blue pills and the green pills and then the yellow pills he is not ready to give up and eventually suggests the controversial treatment of electroconvulsive therapy.

The musical is centred around the original soundtrack by composer Tom Kitt (13, Hair) and with songs such as “Superboy and the Invisible girl” and “I am the one” combines both pop and rock genres.

Set in a three story house the set provides a realistic setting for family life. Racing up and down the stairs the family make the most of the setting while providing the audience with action and variety.

Ending on a positive the play emphasizes the fact that there is light at the end of the tunnel and after years of sturrlge there will be light.

Still running at the Booth Theatre Next to Normal is a must see and tickets start at $110



After the show all cast members greeted fans outside the stage door of the theatre and discussed their excitement over the upcoming Tony awards. Unfortunately Jennifer Damiano (Natalie) was not present.


Interview with Aaron Tveit

Behind the scenes