Certainly one of my favorite plays on Broadway right now, Next to Normal has fantastic music with a modern topic that will be both painful and easy to relate to in this day and age. Without giving too much away, it’s about a suburban family that has some serious problems. The mother Diana (Alice Ripley) is bi-polar and hallucinates regularly, which has strained her relationship with the rest of her family: husband Dan (J. Robert Spencer), son Gabe (Aaron Tveit), and daughter Natalie (Jennifer Damiano). Dan tries to be the stand up husband, the one who stays with her even as she goes mad and takes out her fury on him, while at the same time he tries to control her and make her normal. Natalie struggles with having the perfect grades and getting out of her disturbed household, while her depression eventually leads her to taking her mother’s pills and going a little while. Gabe appears to be the only healthy person in the household … that is until you learn more about him. It’s sometimes downright heartwrenching to watch, but the music is the best I’ve heard in some time, and the acting is all superb. You really should see it while you have the original cast, but check out the cast CD that just came out.
Next to Normal was nominated for 11 Tony awards this year; I’m hoping they’ll win most of them!