Theater Review: “Next to Normal” at the Kennedy Center
The talented Ms. Ripley dishes up an amazing performance as Diana Goodman
The Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical Next to Normal tells the story of a broken family and a mother struggling with bipolar disorder. Photo by Craig Schwartz
☆☆☆☆ stars out of four
Alice Ripley won a Tony for her star turn in an incredible rock musical about mental illness. Next to Normal, now playing at the Kennedy Center, is here for only a few days more before it goes on tour—don’t miss it.
The musical, with music by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, won the 2010 Pultizer Prize for drama and three 2009 Tony awards, including the richly deserved trophy for Ripley. She plays Diana Goodman, a mother struggling with bipolar disorder and the psychiatric treatments that often exacerbate her symptoms. Next to Normal breaks new ground by combining a pulse-pounding score and provocative lyrics with the quiet pain of a family suffering a devastating illness. The highs and lows mirror the illness itself.
The multi-level set and dramatic lighting keep the cast and the action moving in all directions—further evocations of a mind spinning out of control.
No sweetness and light, but Next to Normal provides a blockbuster evening in the theater.
Next to Normal is playing at the Kennedy Center through July 10. Click here to buy tickets.
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