Who ever thought a musical about a family coping – and not coping – with bi-polar disorder would be possible? 20 years ago, there would not have been a “mainstream” professional production on subject matter like this. It would have been considered a fringe or experimental piece. Thankfully the times have changed! The Arts Club is opening its 2011/2012 season on a high note, mounting an ambitious production of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal.
I saw Next to Normal on Broadway in New York in 2008 and it was fantastic. It was devastating and funny and raw and emotional. I couldn’t wait to see it again at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. I was not in any way disappointed. Strong performances from the entire cast elevated this production to one of the best I have seen at the Arts Club.
Be warned: This is not Phantom of the Opera, or The Lion King. It is an unflinching portrayal of a family in crisis that keeps you riveted to your seat from the first note. There is cursing and mature subject matter. Deeply moving, darkly comedic – Next to Normal will leave you emotionally spent. But in a good way.
The video below is from the Original Broadway Cast Recording. Possibly my favourite song from the whole show.
Next to Normal is playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until October 9th. Go see it. You will not be disappointed. And make sure you check out the rest of their season as well. Personally, I can’t wait for Blood Brothers.
Have you seen Next to Normal? What did you think?