fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Next to Normal

I saw Next to Normal at the Kennedy Center on Thursday night. I'd resisted seeing this show in the past, largely because I don't think mental illness makes a good subject for musical theatre. But enough people I know who like theatre really like it, so I decided to take the chance.

I found it both powerful and surprisingly witty. The story has as much to do with the impact of Diana's illness on her family as it does on her own struggle. I particularly liked the way that the daughter, Natalie, was dealt with. She seemed very realistic as she worried about whether she'd inherited her mother's illness, wondered just what her relationship with her boyfriend was really about, and fumed over taking second place to her parents' problems. It probably helped that Emma Hunton, who played Natalie, had such excellent control of the material. Her rendition of "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" was one of the most memorably musical moments of the production.

Alice Ripley has played the role of Diana for about three years now and seemed very natural at it. Asa Somers was convincing as her husband, Dan. The weak link in the cast, in my opinion, was Curt Hansen, who played the son, Gabe. He was fne through much of it, but there were some times when he seemed to have trouble projecting his voice.

The music is pleasant enough, though not especially memorable for the most part. Still, it enhanced the story which is what one really wants in a musical. (Actually, the show is almost through-sung.)

All in all, I can recommend this production. But I still want to discourage people from writing musicals about mental illness.
Tags: musicals, theatre

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