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rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'

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WiCkEDrOcKS
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rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'#1
Posted: 3/16/08 at 10:42am
I saw the show last night and thought it was very good. I had some issues with it but I think it's something definitely worth bringing to Broadway sooner or later with some minor tweaks and alterations.

The score is very good. While not really reinventing much and at times sounding a bit contrived, it still managed to ignite sparks. It is without a doubt, Kitt's best work (although I hate to say, I really enjoyed his High Fidelity score). Brian Yorkey's lyrics are a little repetitive and his best work in the show is during I Miss the Mountains, I Am The One, Let There Be Light, and Feeling Electric. Having seen previous incarnations and readings of the show, I missed Costco, which I really enjoyed but I do have to admit that the show worked a little better without it and the story was told in a more cohesive and less meandering manner thanks to the exclusion of that and other fun but somewhat pointless songs. Anyway, while the score isn't anything brilliant and incredible, it is highly entertaining and memorable. It reminded me very much of RENT but didn't copy it, which is admirable.

The book was just as good. Some scenes were really very sensitively written and almost hard to watch because of how real they felt. Others felt contrived but still managed to stay afloat. Nothing in the show felt really worth completely throwing overboard although some songs could be cut or tweaked and the book could be shortened a bit.

The performances elevated the good material into great territory.
There isn't a weak link in this entire cast. Dynamic voices, incredible acting, and energy to spare were overly abundant on the stage.
First off, Alice Ripley is absolutely astonishing. This is an embodyment of a character more than anything else and she OWNED the stage from the opening scene to the final one. She makes a VERY complicated role seem so easy and relatable. If this show were to ever transfer or open on Broadway, which I hope it does sooner or later, and Ripley were to play Diana, there is no doubt in my mind that they would have to double cast it and have someone play matinee performances or something. This role is extremely demanding and Ripley more than rises to the challenge. It's the best performance I've seen onstage this season, hands down.

Brian D'Arcy James is nearly as good as Dan. He plays the role in a very low-key manner that is really surprising yet completely effective in every way. His voice is fantastic and this is without a doubt his best performance to date. Just brilliant.

Jennifer Damiano is powerful and moving, Adam Chanler-Berat brings a much needed laid-back feel to his part that works spectacularly, Asa Somers is fantastic, and Aaron Tveit, while a little too jumpy for me --he gave me a headache he was moving so much...even while in place-- was absolutely wonderful...his voice is stunning.

Michael Greif's direction is smooth and well-paced, incorporating the three-tiered set in a way that is both successful and innovative. The set is minimal but just enough for this type of show, the orchestrations are incredible, the lighting design is really beautiful, and the costumes are underwhelming but once again suitable for a show like this.

All in all, I really, really enjoyed this show. It could definitely benefit from some alterations and shortening...it's a bit long and parts of the second act were superfluous and boring. But I think it's without a doubt worth bringing to Broadway. I don't think that will happen this season but maybe next season...who knows. I think it's a smart show with fanastic performances that could really become a huge hit. I would hate for this production to be the end of the road for a show with so much potential in every aspect.

*** out of ****
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
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aliciag
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re: rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'#2
Posted: 3/16/08 at 11:18am
I'm so glad you liked it! I was there last night too and I'm so sad to see it going today. But I'm praying it'll be back soon better than ever.

And I totally agree about Alice and Brian. She is Diana! When you just look at her and the emotion in her eyes it's utterly amazing. And I love the "less is more" approach that Brian brings to the role.
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broadwayfan7
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re: rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'#2
Posted: 3/16/08 at 8:43pm
Glad you had fun!
"Everytime you step on that stage it is somebody's first Broadway show and somebody's last Broadway show. Make it count."
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re: rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'#3
Posted: 3/16/08 at 8:49pm
God I wish I would have gotten to see this. re: rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'
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WiCkEDrOcKS
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re: rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'#4
Posted: 3/16/08 at 8:52pm
When did they cut COSTCO out?
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
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aliciag
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re: rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'#5
Posted: 3/16/08 at 8:57pm
I think they cut it around Thursday or Friday of last week (the 6th or 7th).
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re: rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'#6
Posted: 3/16/08 at 9:21pm
They were dark the 6th to rehearse the changes and the first non-"Costco" performance was March 7. It's so much better and tighter without it.

And it's clearer that there's something not right in Diana's brain/body/soul. With "Costco" it took a little longer to realize that.
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re: rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'#7
Posted: 3/16/08 at 9:27pm
That's odd that they cut it so close to its closing and after it opened...

It probably does make more sense without it but I love that song
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
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re: rOcKS @ 'Next to Normal'#8
Posted: 3/16/08 at 9:33pm
I was there last night too and I definitely agree with your review. It was my first exposure to a lot of the people in it and they blew me away!