Running since March 2009 A bleak but powerful musical drama about a troubled suburban family....winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, the NY Times calls it a "brave, breathtaking" show. Closes January 16th.
The Broadway production of Next to Normal closed January 16, 2011. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
This small-scale "rock opera" (6 actors and 6 musicians) was a modest hit at Off Broadway's Second Stage Theatre a year ago, and was then successfully reworked in a Washington DC production before returning to have a go at Broadway. It features hard-driving score of more than 30 songs, the best of which are reminiscent of the Tony-winning musicals "Rent" and "Spring Awakening".
NYC critics' reviews were largely consistent, ranging from reverential (the Daily News called it "an exceptional show that says something meaningful and powerful about surviving in a world of problems") to respectful (Bloomberg said it was "superbly cast and staged," but noted that "how you respond will depend a great deal on your tolerance for a musical in which love is fearlessly twisted beyond recognition").
Here's a video from the 2009 Tony Award broadcast:
A story of a mom's mental illness and the toll it has taken on her and everyone around her may not sound like [a musical] that sings, but Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey have created an exceptional show that says something meaningful and powerful about surviving in a world of problems.
The production tackles the uncomfortable subject of manic depression with a straightforwardness that is commendable. And it's emotional, too, in that Brian Yorkey, who wrote the book and lyrics, and Tom Kitt, who composed the music, have crafted an affecting contemporary tale that doesn't shortchange character or plot in their attempt to tell a difficult story.
This is a musical driven by a dynamic pop-rock score, which allows the characters to give full-throated expression to their feelings. Fitted perfectly to Tom Kitt's music are lyrics by Brian Yorkey – the show is almost entirely sung – that probe the characters' minds and motivation with great psychological understanding. Director Michael Greif has given the show a fast pace and a stark, visceral feeling, along with several stunning theatrical moments.
Superbly cast and staged by Michael Greif, "Next to Normal" is a distinctly modern musical. How you respond will depend a great deal on your tolerance for a musical in which love is fearlessly twisted beyond recognition.
New York Post
Ripley gives a bravely contained performance as her heartwrenching Diana appears equally bewildered and saddened by her own fragile instability. The downside is that we never really experience the terrors lurking inside a tortured mind. Behind its surface grimness, "Next to Normal" ends up relying on soothing conventions.
New York Times
No show on Broadway right now makes as direct a grab for the heart - or wrings it as thoroughly - as "Next to Normal" does. This brave, breathtaking musical focuses squarely on the pain that cripples the members of a suburban family, and never for a minute does it let you escape the anguish at the core of their lives.
Marin Mazzie is magnificent. Vocally, she's at the peak of her talents. Her crystalline voice throbs with a power and precision that is incomparable. As Diana, she reaches deep into the character's psyche with a shattering performance. The libretto charts a chilling course through Diana's tormented decline, from curiously odd behavior to full-blown mental illness. The production, under Michael Greif's perceptive direction, has a greater clarity now.
Time Out New York
To the noble Marin Mazzie falls the unenviable task of replacing Alice Ripley in Next to Normal, and she rises to the challenge: The succession is a success. Mazzie comes through with confidence and surprising intensity. If this beast of a role seems a little tamer under her control, it still scratches out. The other new actors in the cast perform credibly under Michael Grief's dynamic direction, but have yet to find all the levels that their predecessors brought to the show.
Yorkey's open-hearted concern for all these characters is endearing, but in his zeal to fully relay their challenges, he can wax precious. Still, you can't help but admire the compassion that "Normal's" creators afford their subjects, or be moved by the performances.
Composer Tom Kitt, writer-lyricist Brian Yorkey and director Michael Greif have made a lot of smart changes en route to Broadway, giving the show a more assertive personality, a more consistent tone, sharper focus and greater depth to its relationships. While its weaknesses have not been entirely erased, they are outweighed by the intimate musical's ambition, sincerity and heightened emotional involvement.