May 15, 2011

Next To Normal 3.0

I have forgotten how powerful this show is. However, it all came back to me as soon as the first few bars of music played at the top of the show. In the cavernous theatre that is the Shubert Theatre (yes, I still call it that despite the fact it's been renamed The Bank of America Theatre), the power and emotional pull of the show has not been lost. Having seen it in smaller and more intimate venues at Second Stage (Off-Broadway) and at the Booth (Broadway), I was apprehensive to see the tour but I am glad that this has been abated.

Last Saturday (5/7) a bunch of my friends and I (we were 13 in all!) experienced the life of the Goodman family. It was thrilling to re-live the mood changing "birthday cake" scene which shifts the atmosphere in the theatre where the audience becomes dead silent. Fully engrossed, drawn in to the revelation. Sitting through that dark theatre, it's very palpable, very real. And as with the whole audience I too was again invested in the lives of the Goodman family.

Leading the touring cast is Tony Best Actress winner Alice Ripley. Sadly, I have to say that her voice has lost it's luster. I've always thought that her voice is unusual in that she has this "yodel" quality to her singing which is strange to hear at first but in this case, her voice sounded tired and raspy. I was actually distracted with it and that I was worried that she wouldn't reach the high notes. In fact, I thought that she was even singing the score an octave lower. However, her acting is still remarkable as is her ability to inhabit the spirit of a damaged woman. She does the "nutty" really well but at the same time also gives Diana heart and vulnerability. Asa Somers played Dan adequately. He incidentally played the doctor in the Second Stage production. Other supporting players in the show were Curt Hansen (Gabe), Emma Hunton (Natalie), Preston Sadleir (Henry) and Jeremy Kushnier (Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine) and they were all really good in their roles. I have to say that I was really impressed with Emma Hunton's and Jeremy Kushnier's voices.

Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's score is still as engaging as ever as is the story which weaves these songs together. This has been the beauty of this show. The Next To Normal tour will have stops in St. Paul MN, Cleveland, Philly, DC, Charlotte NC and will end in Toronto in July. If you are anyway close to these cities make it a point to see it.

Photos I took that night:

The crazy stagedoor

Asa Somers

Preston Sadleir

Curt Hansen

The Playbill


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