Last night I saw a production of Next to Normal...

n2nbaby
Featured Actor
joined:10/22/10
So to keep this story short, I saw a production of Next to Normal last night at a local playhouse. I was very excited because it's the first time I've seen it since it was on Broadway. Well, at the very end of the show, I was pretty shocked. THEY CHANGED THE ENDING. At the end of Light, they have Diana come back home giving Dan and Natalie hugs.

It's illegal to do something like this, right? Not to mention that it completely changes the meaning of the show. Was just curious to hear some of your guys opinions on it. :)
madlibrarian
Broadway Star
joined:8/15/06
Unless they had permission from the creatives... they're in trouble.
SonofRobbieJ
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/09
Was it just the staging? Or did they re-write text?
n2nbaby
Featured Actor
joined:10/22/10
They didn't add any dialogue or anything, it was purely the staging. That's one reason I was curious. But it was very obvious that in their ending, she decided to come home.
SonofRobbieJ
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/09
If the text is left unchanged, my guess is that it's not actionable. I could be wrong, though.
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Just reading your description, my hunch is that the director meant to indicate (by bringing Diana back at the very end of the song - ie. as a 'button' to the very last moment of the show) that *eventually* there would be a reconciliation.

If that's the case, the director is probably within his or her creative right.

If they had brought back Diana, for example, *before* the song and the conclusion of the story, that would be considered tampering with the ending, at least in terms of how these things are defined by the licensing house.

And to be honest, the end of NEXT TO NORMAL is essentially a tag -stepping outside of the perimeters of the time/space of the book. The song moves past the conclusion to the story and eventually becomes an after thought and a message of hope - a direct aside/plea/statement to the audience.

It's not a decision I would make as a director, but having Diana 'resolve' her relationship with the others simply by embracing them at the end of the song, isn't necessarily re-writing the linear story of what has transpired.

It's rather like bringing Angel back in the final moments of RENT. It's a symbolic gesture, obviously not to indicate anything beyond that. Probably where the director got the idea.











Updated On: 1/23/14 at 02:10 PM
n2nbaby
Featured Actor
joined:10/22/10
My friend checked the text and it says that she is alone, so I don't know if that would qualify as anything or not.

It just seemed like such an awkward decision to make. The entire song is about the struggles of surviving loss but knowing that you still survived. Having her resolve her problems at the end seems, at least IMO, like they just wanted a happy ending even though the lyrics in the song say that being alive is your happy ending.

Maybe I'm just annoyed because I'm such a fan of the show, I don't know. There were plenty of problems with the production in general, but it really made me realize how strong of a piece it was that despite the incredibly sloppy direction, it was still a very moving piece.

I did end up e-mailing MTI just to see what they had to say about it. I don't want to get anyone in trouble, but like I said, it just seems like they are sending out the wrong message.
boggess
Stand-by
joined:7/5/12
Last year I saw a production of N2N where rather than smash the music box, Dan slapped Diana in the face- that definitely ruined the production for me. It made me hate Dan, who is usually the most sympathetic in the show (IMO).

If just in the staging, it's not illegal- though it does give the ending a different feel. I like the uncertainty that comes with Diana being away from the family in the end. Diana coming back makes it almost a happy ending, which I'm not sure is what the show needs.
n2nbaby
Featured Actor
joined:10/22/10
The only knowledge my boyfriend had about Next to Normal before last night was a bootleg I showed him (which he wasn't a huge fan of and didn't remember much of it to boot) and in the car I asked him what he thought of the ending. He said that everything was "happy, happy." So that is definitely the impression the director wanted to leave with people.
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
Every director has a different way of presenting every show and something different to say. There is no "wrong" message to send... It does not change the fabric or meaning of the show in any way.
They did not change the text. Directors are under no obligation to follow stage directions.
You didnt care for the way the director viewed the material. Plain and simple. There is no offense to either of you.

This is my problem with many modern and younger audiences. Shows are licensed out and many super fans of the original productions think that the ONLY way to do a show is how the original production did it.. And they attach design, choreography and staging choices to the show as much as the book and score.. "They changed Mimis pants!" "They cut the Delta Nu stairs" "they cut the turntable". No, no they didnt.
n2nbaby
Featured Actor
joined:10/22/10
It is a bit bigger of a difference than changing Mimi's pants. It literally changes the message of the show.

BUT to each their own. :)
SonofRobbieJ
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/09
But...are we supposed to believe that Diana never sees her family again? Or that some kind of reconciliation is not possible?
n2nbaby
Featured Actor
joined:10/22/10
No, not at all.

Maybe I've worded my posts a bit wrong. I'm not really downing to production as much as questioning why a director would choose to change that aspect of the story. I'm in no way a "fangirl" or what have you. I have just always interpreted the ending more as this; it wasn't so much about whether you think Diana will come back or not, it's more about being thankful for what you have and being happy in whatever moment life brings your way, you always have a reason to be thankful to be alive.

And that in itself is more powerful than showing her coming back to her family. It's almost as if the director thinks his audience will be too stupid to make their own decisions. It's one of those endings where there is no right or wrong answer, so them showing it, kind of took me out of the moment personally.

Like I said earlier, it's not really me bitching but I was just curious if it was alright for him to make a decision like that. If it is, more power to him. I was just wondering.
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
Just because the ORIGINAL left a question unanswered doesn't mean that NO production can answer that question.
All that staging says is that they've made their peace. Not that they are a perfect family unit. The entire song is about making your peace.

And yes, since you mentioned it and questioned it, most audiences are stupid. Especially at the community level. Yes, you have smart audience members, but audiences are often STUPID. You'd be surprised how many do mot realize things that you do mot slap them across the face with.. and many casual theatre goers want to leave feeling happy and uplifted.. Not thoughtful and reflective. There is quite a sigmificant number of people who will not see a show that doesnt leave them hapoy at the end. To paraphrase some pld show biz wisdom, ot doesnt matter what haplens through the entire show, but what that final impression is will last.
DaveyG
Chorus Member
joined:8/11/05
I saw a production of West Side Story where Bernardo looked positively happy that he killed Riff and screamed "Who's next?" while thrusting his knife at the other Jets. Pretty much derailed what was otherwise a decent production. Because after that moment, you feel far less sympathy for Anita and Maria who are mourning a cold blooded murderer, rather than a kid who got in over his head and made a tragic mistake.
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
"And yes, since you mentioned it and questioned it, most audiences are stupid. Especially at the community level."

Wow. Simplemente wow.
yes, you
theatregeek6
Leading Actor
joined:6/19/13
And yes, since you mentioned it and questioned it, most audiences are stupid. Especially at the community level.

Really? That is a pretty pseudo-intellectual / elitist attitude. Those darn hicks just don't get our sophisticated the-a-tre

Back to the post in progress...
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
Namo,
I freely admit to a level of hyperbole there, but let's be frank... in certain settings, you can not expect your audience to be comprised of people who want to actively engage on that deeper level and you can not expect an audience with previous knowledge of material. You have to make it plain for them. You have to keep it direct. At a community theatre, you are not directing for the subscription audience of the Guthrie or the Met.
theatregeek6
Leading Actor
joined:6/19/13
You are dealing with the same people in a Broadway house - worse even since many are ***tourists*** (NOOOO). And the subscription audience of many community theatres are made up of people who ar actually intelligent and well read. Many great community theatres are in university towns or arts communities where the audience would make you feel rather embarrassed by your remarks.

And by the way, I am a New Yorker. I just appreciate theatre at a more broad level.
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
I'm on the fence about this one. I do think it changes the intent of the authors, therefore, it's 'wrong' (IMO). Technically, could they "sanction" the production? I'm not sure, definitely in murkey water.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
brldisteach2
Understudy
joined:11/28/11
Sorry, but changes that alter the ending or meaning of a show are much different than just "changing Mimi's pants." If you don't trust your audience to get the material, then maybe you should choose a different show or have a talk back after the show to explain/discuss it. I've seen other shows that have adjusted things in ways that really ticked me off. I saw a production of "Parade" where they cut "Come up to my Office" and pretty much any other part of the show that might make you think there is a possibility that the main character might be guilty. On a completely different note, I saw a production of Avenue Q that added in a totally tasteless and unnecessary sound cue that made it sound like Gary Coleman was falling down the stairs, and then a sign flipped around saying help wanted (basically, they thought it was funny to make fun of his death.) These are more than cosmetic changes.
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
I always saw Next To Normal as a 21st-century rewrite of "A Doll's House," with a parallel but not identical storyline. Both of them deal with a woman stifling under the burdens of middle-class life, and both end with the woman, having confronted her own weaknesses and strengths, abandoning her family to find herself and become somehow "healthier" at least mentally.

Adding a reconciliation, even at the end, destroys the parallel: these families are KILLING these women.
jimmycurry01
Broadway Legend
joined:5/28/05
I too am really on the fence with this one. If no text was changed, added, or dropped, then I suppose everything is within legal limits. Different staging does not alter the text. My question is, does this staging go against the writers intent, or does it go against the original director's intent? Michael Grief could have just as easily made the same choice, and then we would not be having this discussion now.

In any case, it is not a choice that I would have made.
Liza's Headband
Broadway Legend
joined:5/28/13
This change would not be grounds for the licensing agency to revoke the license on their own since it doesn't alter any copyright protected material (ie. score/script/etc.). The only possible outcome is the authors, or majority owner of authorship, request that MTI send a cease & desist on their behalf.
It's been my policy to view the Internet not as an 'information highway,' but as an electronic asylum filled with babbling loonies. - Mike Royko, Columnist & Pulitzer Prize winner
FlowerChild67
Stand-by
joined:7/11/12
Okay, so after reading this, I have a question: What EXACTLY counts as text? Obviously many productions change blocking, etc. but where is the line crossed into changing the show itself? Where does it go from changing where someone moves to changing what happens in the show?

(Okay, now that I've seen Evan's message, I'm going to add this in: I know that stage directions are often not the playwright's words, so when does changing them cross into questionable territory- either legally or morally? I'm sorry, I don't know if I'm making any sense whatsoever.....)

Updated On: 1/24/14 at 01:09 AM
EvanK
Featured Actor
joined:12/18/07
Most often in a script the stage directions you see are not by the actual authors. They are penned by someone who was involved in the original staging, and placed in... Mostly as a guide. So while you need to follow and honor the written text by the author, most often then not stage directions are not penned by them.

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