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Next to Normal

Love. Heartbreak. Memory. First off, be it known that Next to Normal is NOT, I repeat NOT, a play for chicks who don’t get enough drama in their everyday life. It is a musical with not only an amazing book and score, but also meaning. This life changing drama brought a tear to my eye, and I didn’t cry at Bambi, Hachi, or even Les Miserables. The show was written with a sad, clever, and sometimes hilarious book written by Brian Yorker, and a powerful score by Tom Kitt.

It is very difficult to provide a short synopsis without giving away anything, but I will try. Next to Normal is a musical about many things; however, the over ruling theme in place is love. Natalie, a brilliant teenager who needs to take time for herself, has finally fallen in love with Henry. Henry is, to quote lyrics, “lazy, a loner, a bit of a stoner”, but he also represents a huge rock for Natalie and her crazy life. Her mother, Diana, is diagnosed with a form of bipolarism/schizophrenia, and has hallucinations and dizzy spells often, but she really tries to be their for her kids Natalie and Gabe. Although Gabe has been dead for almost 17 years, he plays a huge role in her life. In all actuality, you could say that he haunts Diana. His powerful song “I’m Alive” really shows us Diana’s inner struggle. Throughout all of this Diana’s husband, Dan, is always there to support her, Natalie, and Henry. Next to Normal follows this family (and Henry) in their daily struggles as they stumble along.

There is not a single thing that culd be changed in the book or score. The music really captures this family’s struggles. With a contemporary rock feel, we can really connectt with these people. The smooth, slow ballads are pure emotion. The fast paced songs induce the sense of hope, and in some cases false security. Just listening to the audio will give an individual a firm grasp on the story. Overall, the music isn’t like any other I’ve heard in a musical to date.

A moment after watching this my thoughts were “Wow.” That was it. One word. That’s all I could think. The message, lyrics, words, and powerful, powerful music has changed me for good. I would give it a rating of PG-13 because the F-bomb is dropped many a time, and there are some mentions of mature themes. If you ever get a chance to see this masterpiece, don’t turn it down. Ten thumbs up.



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