Next to Normal by Brian YorkeyPrepare for a long review, folks.
This play is utterly...staggering. Mind-boggling. AMAZING. Its honestly quite hard for me to put into words, but Ill try. The characters in this are so complex its hard to articulate. Well start with the main character: Diana Goodman.
Diana Di Goodman is a loving wife and mother, trying to do the best for her family. She is utterly miserable, bored with her husband and her daughter who though a genius, is a freak. Her son is a charming little shit who she loves very much. She is utterly dedicated to her son, Gabe, and dotes on him completely, letting him get away with anything, even staying out much too late. She is a sexy, sharp woman, who anyone could see was never quite made for the life of stay at home mother/housewife. She is someone that you could see traveling the world, or something equally great and adventurous. Not stuck in a suburban home all day, caring for an overachieving, angry daughter and a son who doesnt seem to know how much control he has over her. You can see that when she had Gabe, her wild life sort of stopped. She was not made for motherhood; more forced into it. But when she had Gabe everything seemed to make sense. Her life began to revolve around the little boy. Much less so Natalie. Even though she is very unhappy, she tries to be the best wife/mother that she can...although being bipolar depressive and hallucinating her dead son certainly hinders that.
Next is Dan Goodman, her husband. He is a sweet, loving, harried man, who works a stereotypical office job. I would say that he views himself as the only thing that holds their fragile family together. He cant quite relate to his flighty wife anymore, but stays by her side through thick and thin. Another thing I think is that he sees her spiral into madness but almost subconsciously blocks it out, his unrelenting, even puppylike optimism not exactly allowing him to see it. He cant exactly relate to his daughter either, but he does try, constantly calling Language! whenever she swears. He is a thankless character, but heartbreakingly loyal and faithful. In the end, that is his downfall.
Then there is Natalie Goodman, their sixteen-year-old daughter. She does schoolwork frantically, always trying to be the best so that she can escape from her miserable life and graduate early. She is wise beyond her years, yet extremely childish in other ways. She holds in a lot of anger at her mother, for various things. She cant quite relate to her father, and she cant see her brother. A sweet boy named Henry continually tries to woo her, but she just cant cope with him, sending him away multiple times.
Henry is Natalies boyfriend, who is like a young Dan. Hes a sweet young man of seventeen. Hes lazy, a loner, a bit of a stoner... (A bit is an understatement.) The happy stoner sees nothing wrong with the world, managing to be unintentionally insensitive several times when it comes to the issues with Diana. All he really wants is for Natalie to be happy.
And finally...Gabe. Gabriel. (Fans of the musical with get that quote.) He is described as Dashing. Gentle. Bright. Playful. Everything a mother, etc. Hes a charming young man capable of being terrible (and yes, I just quotes Les Miserables). It is never quite told whether he is a ghost, a figment of Dianas and later Dans imagination, or a real manifestation. He encourages Diana to do things that are harmful to her, going to far as to motivate Diana to slash her wrists in a suicide attempt. Though he can seem wicked and malevolent, you can tell Gabe cares about his mother. He wants her to be happy, and he wants to come away with him, even if it makes the play take such a dark turn. He encourages her to flush away her medicine at one point, as well. Hes scared for Diana to get cured, maybe because hes afraid to go away. He also loves his father, even if he doesnt show it directly until the end of the play. At the very beginning, we see him ask Why does he hate me? To which Diana answers, Because youre a little twat. A joke is made, and the question is forgotten. In the end though, Gabe redeems himself.
This musical is raw; real. It takes a subject no one else would dare touch and just...tears it wide open, exposing it for what it is. No musical since RENT has done this, in the words of the amazing Anthony Rapp. And I must say, it is true.
Next to Normal
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To watch this tale of a haunted housewife beautifully played by Alice Ripley and the household she in turn haunts is to ride a speeding roller coaster of responses. And though it gives off hot sparks of original wit, the show also sinks into what feels like warmed-over social satire, with detours to the giddy brink of camp. The show is appropriately named in more ways than one. Its title reflects not only the state of the clan at its center, striving for all-American averageness, but also the essence of the show. It also, in an honored tradition of all-American hometown weepers, makes a high school dance an acid test for a central character. And the lyrics traffic in Lifetime-style buzzwords.
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Next to Normal , with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness. Dad's an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches and pour cereal; their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens, appearing to be a typical American family. Next to Normal takes audiences into the minds and hearts of each character, presenting their family's story with love, sympathy and heart. Concert Selections are original Broadway orchestrations and exciting new symphonic arrangements of select songs for use in concert performances. Concert Selections are the perfect way to give audiences a taste of the musical theatre experience without the sets, props and costumes.
Next to Normal stylized as next to normal is a American rock musical with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt. The story centers on a mother who struggles with worsening bipolar disorder and the effects that managing her illness has on her family. The musical addresses grief , depression , suicide , drug abuse , ethics in modern psychiatry , and the underbelly of suburban life. After its Off-Broadway run, the show played from November to January at the Arena Stage while the theater was in its temporary venue in Virginia. The musical opened on Broadway in April