Not even close to Normal.

Last night, Courtney took me to see Next to Normal on Broadway.  Here is my review:

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I feel like I say this a lot, but I was blown away.  And if that cliché is now understated, I was blown to bits.  It was by far the most emotional show I have seen on stage.  From the first song to the last, I was fighting back tears.

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I do not want to give a lot away, but there is a huge plot twist early in the first act that changes the entire dynamic of the show.  I thought it was just another dysfunctional family reminiscent of August: Osage County, but it was more. August: Osage County is my far the best play I have ever seen.  Its writing and plot twists are in my thoughts to this day, and now I feel like Next to Normal will be right there with it.  It is hard not to compare the two but they both shine in different ways.  The clearest way I can break it down is August is deep and Next to Normal is emotional.

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Alice Ripley plays Diana, the mother of the family who seems to cause most of the stress.  She won the Tony this past year for ‘Best Leading Actress in Musical.’  In an earlier entry, I picked my favorites for this years Tony’s but I was unaware of how powerful Ripley was in this role.  There was no contest in that category.  And in retrospect, Next to Normal was an extremely close second to Billy Elliott for the top prize of Best Musical, in my opinion.

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Not only was the story great, but the overall production was quite impressive.  The set was simple and modern and left just enough to the imagination.  The music was great as well as the writing.  I am a little hesitant to upload the soundtrack to my iPod because it was that heavy.  Even with two under-studies, the acting was brilliant and completely convincing.  I lost myself in that show.

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If you are looking for a Broadway show to see, I would highly recommend Next to Normal.  It is anything but normal.  It is haunting and I hope I get to see it again.  And hurry!  Alice Ripley might leave the show any day now.

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