In an audience of musical theatre majors, my three friends and I sat to watch a small cast of six put on a musical we’d all hoped to see, called “Next to Normal.” There was very little publicity for the event, and it was pure chance that we found out they were even doing it. I’m so glad we did because it was yet another fantastic evening of musical-wonderfulness for me!
“Next to Normal” tells the story of a dysfunctional family dealing with the turmoil of everyday life. The mother of the family is a bipolar/schizophrenic character who struggles with coping, the father of the family is in denial of pretty much everything, and the sister has to deal with regular teenage angst while being raised by two struggling, and mostly absent, parental figures. The mother’s character was, as I’m sure you can tell by her description, a definite challenge, but Chelsea Wilson was absolutely amazing. She pulled off crazy so unbelievably well. Everyone was just cast so perfectly, like C.J. Eldred as the role of Gabe and Ted Stevenson as Dan, I could hardly believe it.
Complaints bring color to a review, but I’m seriously struggling here. It was long? Yeah, 2 and a half hours, I’d say, and a few of the songs dragged, like the saga “I miss the mountains.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t just press skip this time when it came on.
The passion of the show exploded off the stage for sure, and I felt the musical shift perspectives constantly, from mother, to son, to daughter, to father. The lighting would tilt and change its tone as the melodies would lift and fall. It’s one thing to hear the recording bajillions of times, and an absolute other thing to see it performed in front of you. I’ll never hear THAT recording the same way again.
It was such a great show, and I’m so so glad I have friends who are more informed than I to tell me what is going on in the distant woods of north campus. If you read this in time, go tomorrow night!