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Next to Normal by Brian Yorkey
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Next to Normal (edition 2010)

by Brian Yorkey (Author)

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1274189,950 (4.25)None
"A contemporary musical that explores how one suburban household copes with crisis. With provocative lyrics and an electrifying score of more than thirty original songs, Next to normal shows how far two parents will go to keep themselves sane and their family's world intact"--From publisher description.… (more)
Member:cewins
Title:Next to Normal
Authors:Brian Yorkey (Author)
Info:Theatre Communications Group (2010), 112 pages
Collections:Plays & Anthologies, Your library
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Next to Normal by Brian Yorkey

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Showing 4 of 4
A Great Musical About Mental Illness

Next to Normal is among the most electric, compelling, and moving musical dramas you’ll ever experience. It evokes strong emotional reactions in audiences not only because of the terrific music and book, but because it dramatizes real-life experiences many people share: loss of a child, mental illness, and a troubled family life. If you have seen the play, then you yourself can attest to its power, for there’s hardly a performance in which sobbing doesn’t break out, when some audience members don’t gasp as they identify with what the characters on stage are experiencing, in which some audience members find it so overwhelming that it causes some to leave either in tears or anger. If you attend live theater, you’ve probably not felt such strong emotions as Next to Normal arouses.

Next to Normal presents what at first, at least in the opening five minutes, appears to be a fairly typical upper middle class suburban family. Mother Diana rises early and prepares lunches for the children. Husband Dan finds his wife missing from bed but gets excited when she yells to him that she will be up to have sex with him. Daughter Natalie is up early plowing through her AP homework in a mad dash to get into Yale. Son Gabe dashes about preparing for school, invisible to all but Diana. Then, in a flash, Diana becomes unhinged, making sandwich after sandwich on the kitchen counter and finishing on the floor. All the while the cast sings about their various situations: Diana her love of family and frustrations with them and her life; Dan his delight that everything seems to be going great as a result of Diana’s new meds; Natalie her feelings of neglect and resentment of her brother; Gabe of living yet another day.

As the play progresses, we learn of how Diana suffers with her bipolar disorder and her periods of delusion, as well as with her frustrations regarding the constant medical attention and the alphabetical array of drugs that serve to dull her senses, remove her from life, and diminish her as a wife, mother, and woman. She expresses this powerfully, evocatively, and poignantly in a truly stunning number, “I Miss the Mountains.” Later, the crux of the issue presents itself, that causing Dan tremendous anguish, Diana sensations of isolation and anger but also comfort, and Gabe his tenuous hold on life, in a dueling number that brings on the sweats in viewers, “You Don’t Know” followed immediately by “I Am the One.” Directly after these, Natalie sings about her own anger over how she thinks Diana has neglected her, paid more attention to an invisible son than her own flesh and blood, alive daughter in”Superboy and the Invisible Girl.”

Through the conclusion of Act I and the end of Act II, we witness Dan and Diana’s attempts to get her mental illness under control and the disruptive and debilitating effect it has had on the family. It’s here, at the end, that we finally comprehend just how painful the past several years have been for Dan, when Diana leaves, when the burden of her care lifts from his shoulders, and when he can at last acknowledge his son and begin his long put off grieving.

Bipolar disorder, psychiatric treatment methods, family dynamics, the effect of mental illness on all family members, Next to Normal examines and dramatizes all these in two and a half hours that combine drama, brilliant music, and painful reality that both traumatizes and entertains audiences. When the opportunity to see it presents itself in your community, preferably by a troupe of skilled actors, you should not pass up seeing it. It’s an experience you probably will never forget. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
A Great Musical About Mental Illness

Next to Normal is among the most electric, compelling, and moving musical dramas you’ll ever experience. It evokes strong emotional reactions in audiences not only because of the terrific music and book, but because it dramatizes real-life experiences many people share: loss of a child, mental illness, and a troubled family life. If you have seen the play, then you yourself can attest to its power, for there’s hardly a performance in which sobbing doesn’t break out, when some audience members don’t gasp as they identify with what the characters on stage are experiencing, in which some audience members find it so overwhelming that it causes some to leave either in tears or anger. If you attend live theater, you’ve probably not felt such strong emotions as Next to Normal arouses.

Next to Normal presents what at first, at least in the opening five minutes, appears to be a fairly typical upper middle class suburban family. Mother Diana rises early and prepares lunches for the children. Husband Dan finds his wife missing from bed but gets excited when she yells to him that she will be up to have sex with him. Daughter Natalie is up early plowing through her AP homework in a mad dash to get into Yale. Son Gabe dashes about preparing for school, invisible to all but Diana. Then, in a flash, Diana becomes unhinged, making sandwich after sandwich on the kitchen counter and finishing on the floor. All the while the cast sings about their various situations: Diana her love of family and frustrations with them and her life; Dan his delight that everything seems to be going great as a result of Diana’s new meds; Natalie her feelings of neglect and resentment of her brother; Gabe of living yet another day.

As the play progresses, we learn of how Diana suffers with her bipolar disorder and her periods of delusion, as well as with her frustrations regarding the constant medical attention and the alphabetical array of drugs that serve to dull her senses, remove her from life, and diminish her as a wife, mother, and woman. She expresses this powerfully, evocatively, and poignantly in a truly stunning number, “I Miss the Mountains.” Later, the crux of the issue presents itself, that causing Dan tremendous anguish, Diana sensations of isolation and anger but also comfort, and Gabe his tenuous hold on life, in a dueling number that brings on the sweats in viewers, “You Don’t Know” followed immediately by “I Am the One.” Directly after these, Natalie sings about her own anger over how she thinks Diana has neglected her, paid more attention to an invisible son than her own flesh and blood, alive daughter in”Superboy and the Invisible Girl.”

Through the conclusion of Act I and the end of Act II, we witness Dan and Diana’s attempts to get her mental illness under control and the disruptive and debilitating effect it has had on the family. It’s here, at the end, that we finally comprehend just how painful the past several years have been for Dan, when Diana leaves, when the burden of her care lifts from his shoulders, and when he can at last acknowledge his son and begin his long put off grieving.

Bipolar disorder, psychiatric treatment methods, family dynamics, the effect of mental illness on all family members, Next to Normal examines and dramatizes all these in two and a half hours that combine drama, brilliant music, and painful reality that both traumatizes and entertains audiences. When the opportunity to see it presents itself in your community, preferably by a troupe of skilled actors, you should not pass up seeing it. It’s an experience you probably will never forget. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Next to Normal, the award winning script of the Broadway musical of the same name, is perhaps one of the most extraordinary scripts I’ve ever read. When it comes to reading the scripts of musicals, a lot of the time some of the emotion is lost by just seeing the words on the page. That is not the case with Next to Normal. Just reading the words, with no help from the soundtrack or anything else, still moves me to tears.

The story is a poignant one about a mother with bipolar disorder, struggling with the death of her son 16 years ago. You’ll get lost inside the relationships between her and her family as they all cope with the mental illness. It’s written beautifully, and with excellent research and respect for those who suffer from the disease. At no point does it come off feeling like a gimmick, but an accurate representation of life. ( )
  thoroughlyme | Apr 23, 2021 |
Next to Normal is a gripping story of the "perfect loving family" that is not so perfect. An amazing piece of literature that deals with a mother's mental illness and a family's attempt to cope with it. The pain and loss felt by the whole family is perfectly depicted in this drama. ( )
  Scott.Ondovchik | Sep 8, 2011 |
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"A contemporary musical that explores how one suburban household copes with crisis. With provocative lyrics and an electrifying score of more than thirty original songs, Next to normal shows how far two parents will go to keep themselves sane and their family's world intact"--From publisher description.

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