Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s award-winning musical next to normal is on soaring vocal display at Croswell Opera House where it opened last night and runs through October 28th.
The outstanding cast is comprised of Natalie Kissinger as Diana, Joe Nolan as her husband Dan, Dominic Seipenko as son Gabe, Emily Courcy as daughter Natalie, Andrew Buckshaw as the doctors Madden and Fine, and Jonathan Stelzer as Natalie’s boyfriend Henry. Each is strong individually, but also help create powerhouse vocals when they appear together.
Without giving away too much (although I suppose most theater goer’s know the storyline by now) it concerns a suburban family dealing with mom’s mental illness and the ways different people cope with grief. It’s probably also not giving away too much to mention that the show was originally called “Feeling Electric” during its pre-Broadway workshops before being renamed next to normal.
It all plays out on Director Doug Miller’s excellent set, with Tiff Crutchfield’s lighting design. The orchestra sounds superb and is under the direction of outstanding musical director Dave Rains.
I directed a production of n2n for Ann Arbor Civic Theatre some years ago and know every word and phrase of this show along with their subtext, so I will refrain from mentioning some minor quibbles about some of the staging. I will however mention that in some places actors are in partial (or in a few instances entirely) in shadow near and around the upper level handrail.
In its New York Times review, they referred to the show as a “feel everything musical”, a phrase that was quickly used synonymously with its other advertising blips. And so it is. The show is engaging, intense, at times very funny. It captures a slice of life that many in the audience have coped with related to their own family members or friends, and the ending is not tied neatly into a bow for the audience.
Highly Recommended. Bring tissues.
next ot normal, Croswell Opera House, 129 E Maumee, Adrian, MI – croswell.org for tickets, or 517-264-show, or at the door.
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