REVIEW: Next to Normal

I saw Next to Normal at the Ordway on Tuesday and ever since, this musical has consumed my brain.  Next to Normal is from the director of Rent and has won Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.   In addition, Alice Ripley is playing the lead role in this Ordway production, a role in which she also received a Tony award.  Needless to say,  my expectations for this production were very high even though I didn’t have a clue what this musical is about before I saw it.  Next to Normal delivered.

The Ordway describes Next to Normal as ” an emotional powerhouse of a musical about a family trying to take care of themselves and each other.”  GAG!  This description is accurate but does not thoroughly convey the depth and uniqueness of this musical.  For a better description, see the Star Tribune’s review.

“Normal” deals with serious issues that have not been dealt with like this in a musical before: mental illness, chronic grief, attempted suicide and other things that we don’t like to air in public. Like “Sweeney Todd” — another musical with unlikely subject matter — “Normal” is riveting for its courage and for the deftness and wit with which it handles its sobering subject.

Although this musical is touted as a ‘feel good’ musical, I found it overall very dark and somewhat tense.  There are, however, comedic breaks scattered throughout the show and this musical did leave me smiling at the end.  I also can’t get the incredibly catchy “I’m Alive” out of my head!  This song compels you to get up, sing and dance.

To listen to some of the best songs from this musical, click here.

If you’re into musicals, do not miss this opportunity to see most of the Broadway cast here in St. Paul.  The show runs until May 22, 2011.

DEAL ALERT: Discounted tickets are available through Goldstar.