Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Next To Normal"

Don't look surprised to see two of these in a row, I warned you yesterday. Added to the fact that I essentially wandered into this show horribly ignorant of how long it's been playing and the accolades it's achieved, and you can only imagine how blown away I was by this incredible musical.

Telling the story of a family's struggle to contend with a mother's bipolar disorder, coupled with paranoia, and any myriad of her additional personal demons, "Next To Normal" won a handful of Tony Awards in 2009, including one for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater. In addition, this musical won  the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. I know, what'd I tell ya?
The cast is this show is nothing short of breathtaking. yes, I'm seeing it at the end of its run and yet most theater goers in New York and in Los Angeles - where the show plays simultaneously - already know everything that I am saying. But, truly, I was thrilled with these actors. Marin Mazzie's portrayal of "Diana", the mother/wife trying to hold together her family and her life, is absolutely stunning, as was Jason Danieley's portrayal of father/husband "Dan". The children of this family, portrayed by Meghann Fahy and Kyle Dean Massey were equally exquisite. All possessed voices for days, and brought their characters to life with seeming ease and understanding.
Granted, these singing chops could have easily fallen flat had it not been for music and scoring by Tom Kitt. This is a moving and electric soundtrack - contemporary without a doubt, and requiring of actors whose singign abilities are as strong as their acting chops. Brian Yorkey's story and lyrics weave together an emotionally-wrought and heartbreaking story that is set to beautifully to such music.With a clever three-tiered design created by Mark Wendland, an occasional rock sentiment created by Kevin Adams' lights, it took a director as talented and experienced by Michael Grief to bring this show to life, but surely he could not have done so without such an incredible team.

For once I am posting a review while there's still a little time to see the actual show, so get down to the Booth Theater at 222 W 45th Street, and check it out for yourself! I got an SRO ticket for only $26.50, and the show was so mesmerizing that standing was a non-issue, I assure you.

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