Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Maybe (Next to Normal)

LOVE IT! Next To Normal is an emotional roller coaster that leaves audiences shaken up and wanting more from this A+ cast! If you do not cry at least once at one point during this show then you do not have a heart.

I first heard about this show a year ago when I read an article on show’s opening night. I was initially drawn to the piece because of the director Michael Greif (of RENT fame). But as I started to learn more about the production I realized how long this show had been the works and how many big Broadway stars tried their hand at the different roles. With music written by Tom Kitt and Book/ Lyric written by Brian Yorkey the original title of the show was entitled Feeling Electric. That production of Feeling Electric as was first seen in a 2002 reading at NYC’s Cutting Room. The role of Diana had been played by Sherie Rene Scott (Everyday Rapture/ Aida) and Amy Spanger before Alice Ripley stepped into the role for a workshop at the Second Stage Theatre. The role of Dan had been played by Norbert Leo Butz, Joe Cassidy, and Brian d’Arcy James (Sherk) (who returns to the role in May) before J. Robert Spencer came in as a replacement off-Broadway and continued with the show on Broadway. Before Louis Hobson stepped into the role of Dr. Fine/Dr. Madden the roles was played by Deven May (Jersey Boys), Anthony Rapp (RENT) and Asa Somers. Skylar Astin (Spring Awakening) played Henry before Adam Chanler-Berat became perfect for the role. The role of Gabe has been played by Aaron Tveit who played the role off-Broadway before playing on Broadway. Kyle Dean Massey stepped into the role of Gabe on Broadway after Tveit left. And last but not least before Jennifer Damiano took the role of Natalie she was played by Mary Faber (American Idiot, Avenue Q), Phoebe Strole (Spring Awakening), and Annaleigh Ashford (Wicked).

Now that you know a little about the history of who was apart of making this show happened let me tell you why all of these fine actors worked so hard to get it to Broadway. This show is so personal that it gets under your skin and you can not help but want to run up on stage to give someone a hug. Tony Award winning Alice Ripley knows just how to captivate an audience to make you love, hate, and help her all at the same time. Ripley plays Diana, the mother who is dealing with mental illness and the effect it has on her family. She plays the perfect suburban wife who underneath has layers of complexity; dealing with loss, suicide, drug dependency and hallucinations. She truly will shake you up inside and wonder if maybe we are all a little bit like Diana, crazed. In the performance I saw on 4/18 the role of Dan was played by Michael Berry. (Interesting side note he understudies for Dan and in real life he is married to Sarah Uriarte Berry who understudied for Diana a period of the Broadway run). Michael did an outstanding job at playing the core of the family; who is also internally falling apart trying to keep everyone together. Meghann Fahy filled in the role of Natalie and kicked ass as the troubled teen trying to get the attention and love of her family. He “perfect” and supportive boyfriend played by Adam Chanler-Berat won over the audience with his performance of “Perfect for You” a song he sings to win over Natalie. Chanler-Berat plays the rock in Natalie’s life and mirrors Dan in many ways. Louis Hobson is the best doctor I have ever seen on stage. He is so personable and his voice is so authoritative in the songs he sings yet you still find in trustworthy. Gabe played by Kyle Dean Massey is gave one of the creepiest yet compelling performances I have ever seen on stage. You want to be mad Gabe for tormenting Diana his mother in her imagination but you can not help but feel for the lost son clinging just to be remembered by the family.

Overall this musical is AMAZING. If you asked me hey I am headed to Broadway what should I see? I would say NEXT TO NORMAL (or American Idiot) but if you really want for your mind to be blown away go see NEXT TO NORMAL! Everyone who I have recommended it to has LOVED IT. So go see this production! The show will be heading out on it’s 1st national tour starting this fall in Los Angeles. Next to Normal will play at the Ahmanson Theatre November 23rd 2010 through January 2nd 2011. Click here for more info on the Southern California stop.

All the pictures in this post are from my personal camera from stage door after the 4/18 show. The photo of the two random guys are actually two band members that crazy fans asked for their autographs at stage door(usually they only ask for the actors but the music is that good!). I thought it was cute so I took a picture. I got almost the whole cast to sign my playbill (no Kyle). They were all so nice and so thankful to all the fans who waited out for them.

I want to send a big THANK YOU to the Booth Theatre staff! My friend Rose and I showed up a bit late to the 7:30 Sunday night show (we thought it was a 8pm), but the Booth Theatre staff were so understanding and still let us take our seats. They also offered to fill us in on the three songs we missed.

"Maybe (Next to Normal)"-song from Next to Normal

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