Review Roundup: NEXT TO NORMAL at the Kennedy Cenrer - Critics Weigh In!
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presents the Broadway Center Stage production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Next to Normal, starring Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award winner Rachel Bay Jones (Dear Evan Hansen, Pippin) as Diana with Tony and Emmy Award nominee Brandon Victor Dixon (Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, Shuffle Along) as Dan.
They are joined by Maia Reficco (Encores! Evita, Nickelodeon Latin America's Kally Mashup) as Natalie, Khamary Rose (BET's The Bobby Brown Story) as Gabe, Ben Levi Ross (Dear Evan Hansen) as Henry, and Michael Park (Dear Evan Hansen, Broadway Center Stage: Footloose) as Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine.
The production is led by director Michael Greif, who holds the distinction of being the only director to helm the original Broadway productions of two Pulitzer Prize-winning musicals (RENT and Next to Normal). Tickets are currently on sale for the production running January 29-February 3, 2020 in the Eisenhower Theater.
In addition to the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this unflinching look at a suburban family struggling with the effects of mental illness with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt won three Tony Awards®, including Best Original Score. The musical also garnered three Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Production, during its pre-Broadway run at D.C.'s Arena Stage.
Next to Normal features choreography by Tony Award® winner Sergio Trujillo (Ain't Too Proud, Next to Normal), musical direction by Charlie Alterman (Next to Normal, Pippin), original scenic design by Tony Award® nominee Mark Wendland (Next to Normal, The Rose Tattoo) and adapted by Paul Tate dePoo III (Broadway Center Stage: The Music Man, Tommy, Footloose), lighting design by Cory Pattak (Broadway Center Stage: In the Heights, Little Shop of Horrors, The Music Man, Tommy, Footloose), costume design by Tony Award® nominee Jeff Mahshie (Next to Normal, She Loves Me), and sound design by Tony Award® winner Kai Harada (The Band's Visit; Broadway Center Stage: Chess, Little Shop of Horrors, The Music Man, Tommy).
Charles Shubow, BroadwayWorld: This production has many connections with the hit musical DEAR EVAN HANSEN. Playing Diana is the Tony Award winner for DEH, Rachel Bay Jones who played "Heidi Hansen". While she was amazing in that role, this role establishes her as a major Broadway star. Michael Park (Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine) was also in the original Broadway cast of DEH and packs this role with power. Ben Levi Ross plays (Henry). He was in the first national tour of DEH and packs a powerful voice. And wouldn't you know, Director Grief also directed DEH and was nominated for a Tony.
Peter Marks, Washington Post: You experience on this evening not only harmonizing by remarkable voices, but also an affirmation of the ascendancy of two major musical-theater talents. Next to normal? Nah: more than exceptional.