Next to Normal (minus one star)

Whoops!  In the whirlwind of summer beginning and us going to the Kentucky Derby, I forgot about Next to Normal.  One of the primary reasons we purchased season tickets with Broadway in Chicago.  

After watching it nominated for 11 Tony’s in 2009 and winning three of them, we knew this is one that we would jump on if it came to Chicago.  I mean, it also won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for Drama making it the eight musical to ever be given that award, the previous winner (and my personal favorite) was in 1996 when Rent was given the prize.

We were tickled when Broadway in Chicago announced that Alice Ripley was going to be continuing her role as Diana Goodman.  She won a Tony for playing this part – and she was coming with the touring show!  Super exciting   

Until……*cue the foreshadowing music*  …..because nothing can ever be perfect.

We enter the Bank of America theater, nab our Playbills, sit down in our seats (complete with an annoying paper stickered to them reminding us to renew our subscription yeah no and read all about that HERE) opened them up and CRAP.  The dreaded piece of white paper falls out into our laps.  “Alice Ripley will not be in this performance”.  Well that’s just lovely.  And she didn’t perform what seems like 5 performances that week, with no explanation.  Nothing.  Usually you get something – and she performed some charity event or whatever on Belmont a couple of days later, but couldn’t show up to the shows.  Hope she’s okay, but don’t keep toting that a super star of Broadway is going to be in something and then she doesn’t even show up!

Moving on…..this show was incredible minus Alice Ripley.  It has a three tiered set that moves and changes colors based on what’s going on.  The actors were all fantastic.  Ms Ripley’s understudy was even quite good – though I felt bad for her when there was clapping at the very beginning that ceased as soon as they saw it wasn’t the star they were looking for.  

It’s hard to write a review about this show though because there are plot twists in it that I don’t want to give away.  I’ll just say this though.  There are few shows that I don’t know the storyline of, and maybe because this one was a newer show and all I knew was the soundtrack – I don’t know.  But during the birthday cake scene I had an “OMG I had no idea that’s what was going on!!!” moment.  Something huge that I never knew and never realized from listening to the soundtrack.  

This show is intense and highly depressing, but very reflective.  It’s not afraid to show a modern family.  People have issues.  Families help each other out.  Love is still possible.  Next to Normal deserves all the praise and awards it’s received.  See it if you can and hopefully you’ll get to see Alice Ripley.

I know a ton of my friends and followers saw this show – what did you think?  Did you enjoy it even without Alice Ripley as Diana Goodman?


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Chicago girl living for the theater, museums, and happiness.

One thought on “Next to Normal (minus one star)”

  1. I enjoyed it, but was disappointed that A.R. wasn't in it. But I think Pearl Sun did a commendable job. Her singing was good, though her acting may have lacked a bit of intensity.

    And yes, it was intense and depressing.


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