Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Next to Normal
Next to Normal is a musical about a woman with bi-polar disorder. Yeah, I know. What?
I saw this stunning production on Broadway last Monday (my sincere apologies for my tardiness in blog posts, its been sunny in New York and blogging just can't be done in the sunlight.) with Carey and just fell into it. It is the best musical I've seen since Spring Awakening.
In fact, I wish that shows like Hedda Gabler, Becky Shaw, White Christmas, Speed the Plow, and West Side Story would come take a few notes from Next to Normal in terms of set design and artistic presentation. Next to Normal had the best set I've seen since Equus and the best artistic concept since, I don't know, London a few years ago.
Everything else on Broadway right now needs to come observe the BRILLIANCE of a set dreamt from an 'idea of a house' and not just 'a pretend house.' There is a difference, Becky Shaw. They all need to take a written exam on conceptual theater and the effects of 'thoughtful design' verses 'sets that look like houses.' We know its a house. Give us something else to look at.
The show itself was phenomenal and the story could not have been more resonant. I cried the entire time (really, I did. Ask Carey.) and am not even going to touch on the importance of this story. It is in essence about a family and about marriage and about mental illness. It was funny, it was sad, and it was just incredibly well done. The facial expressions coming from the mother were dead-on heartbreaking. Just so very realistic and biting in terms of mania.
Next to Normal gave me real hope for the future of theater and Broadway. I am sick of the cookie cutter musical song and dance, and Next to Normal proved that music and musical theater still have a very real place in storytelling. This show would have been nothing without the musical element and for that I am extremely grateful.
Go see it. Katie and Maria did so the next night and they will say the same thing. It's heartbreaking in the way we need our hearts to be broken.
Note: You are probably wondering how I afford all of these fabulous activities on my modest little art salary. Well, my friends, that's what friends are for. I have a friend who writes for a theater website who gets free press passes and then generously takes me as her plus one. I also have friends who get free dvds before they are released in theater. I also have friends who get free screening passes for new independent films. I also have free trade dinners in Chelsea from my work. So, you see, I paid $0 for Next to Normal. Just so you know.