Monday, September 23, 2013

Next to Normal

I think I have mentioned before my love for music theater. One of my dearest wishes is to someday see an actual Broadway production. I have been enamored since seeing The Sound of Music as a child and my affection has only grown increasingly larger as I have seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Rent and Hairspray. Of course classics such as The Sound of Music, West Side Story and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers still stay close to my heart too.

One of the perks of the long car rides we have between here and St. Louis is that Z and I switch off on either Pandora or Spotify channels. When it is my turn, you can always know that musicals will be at least one of my picks. It was during one of these that I heard the song I Am the One from the musical Next to Normal. I had never heard it before and I was drawn in to the music immediately. While I had no understanding of the words as they pertained to the musical they still captured me. Once home I went to my trusty youtube to find out more about this musical. Once I read up on it, I was intrigued.

Next to Normal was on Broadway in 2009. The show is about a family living with a mother and wife who is suffering from bipolar disorder caused by the death of her child, the same child that now both haunts and try's to guide her to him. It details her dips into depression and the highs and lows of the disorder and the effect that they have on her family. Dark? Just a bit....and how could they make a musical  about of all things, bipolar disorder? Heck....they can make a musical about anything now a days. I knew though that I really wanted to see this. Sadly, other than a few excerpts on youtube, it looked as if I was out of luck. The touring company apparently is no longer touring and my chance to see it locally came and went in 2012! Drats! I guessed I would just have to be happy with the soundtrack.....and I was.....until yesterday. As I was just browsing through youtube I came upon the actual full length musical recorded from Broadway. Eeeeeeeee!!!!! You can only imagine my excitement. I wasted no time in watching.

When you have built something up in your head, there is always that little fear that the reality might not be as great as your head-hype. Nothing could have been further from the truth with Next to Normal. Somewhere I had read that the producers of the musical Rent also produced NTN. I could see it, yet it was still its own entity. Nothing I had ever seen before. The show was very true to life showing the ugliness that can result from this mental disorder and it also showed the difficulties of treatment and how it can tear a family down to its very core. Mixed in with the darkness and I say darkness because that is how you feel watching this woman deal with her illness, there is also humor because just like in real one can survive without it. The music is beautifully done and the songs capture the families struggles from the mothers "You Don't Know" lashing out at her husbands inability to understand her illness to the daughters heart wrenching "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" describing how she feels living in her dead brothers shadow.

I will say that I have known several people in my life who are bipolar and this actually gave me a view of the disease I didn't have previously. I will also say that surprisingly I had tears running down my face during much of the show. I had no idea I would be so affected.

If you get a chance to watch it and musicals are your thing....I highly encourage it. It is not your run of the mill, normal high spirited musical. Of course I guess neither was Rent, but you know what I mean. It deals with tough subject matter and there is adult content and language throughout, so you might not want to watch this one with the kids. All in all though, I loved this show and I guarantee it just might give you insight into mental disease you didn't previously have. I am going to put the link for NTN here>>>>>Next to Normal. Since it is likely illegal for this to be on may not be there long. If you do though get the chance to watch, I would love to know your thoughts.

So today.....I like...... no actually love.....Next to Normal!


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I have never heard of this. I will have to check it out!

Anonymous said...

I have seen Next to Normal. It is wonderful. I also love the music. It is a rather obscure musical as musicals go. I was so surprised to see your blog about it. Great show and great blog.

Dreama said...

I watched it and was really moved. My sister has suffered with this disorder for many years. Just like the woman in the show, doctors have worked with her meds over and over, sometimes getting good results and other times she must suffer with the side affects. When her mood is even she is almost lifeless but when she is off her meds she fly's from extreme to extreme. Electro shock therapy so far has not been suggested and I hope it never is. All I can say after watching this is that whoever wrote this either suffers from this disease or has someone close to them who suffers from it. It was scarey how true to life this is. Thank you so much for sharing this.