BWW Review: NEXT TO NORMAL at Troy Civic Theatre

BWW Review: NEXT TO NORMAL  at Troy Civic Theatre

Mental illness is not your usual subject matter for a musical. Although it is not a light, toe-tapping kind of musical, NEXT TO NORMAL by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey however, manages to be an entertaining and thought provoking evening of theatre. It offers a peak into the lives of one family and their struggles and fears related to the mental illness of their matriarch and the damage left behind.

Anyone who has ever loved someone that struggles with these issues can relate to this show. It can cause some uncomfortable moments, some awkward laughter, some tears. It is what makes a show like NEXT TO NORMAL work. You are left with the feeling that you are not alone, whether you are the one struggling with illness or you are the family member coming to terms with not only the effect that it has on you but also the pain of watching someone you love suffer. It is all presented in a beautiful show that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 and the Tony Award for Best Original Score in 2009. If you are looking for a light-hearted musical, however, this is not really the show for you.

Last Saturday's performance seemed a little awkward in the beginning, as if the actors were still settling into their performances somewhat. As the evening progressed, everyone had settled in and it made Act 2 stronger than Act 1. Particularly strong were the duet Maybe (Next to Normal) between Jenny Weber (Diana) and Alicia Walton (Natalie). As a mother watching the show with my daughters, this number was particularly poignant. Another Act 2 high spot was the connection between Mark Van Luvender (Dan) and Doug Gibbons (Gabe) in I am the One (Reprise).

My favorite performances of the evening belonged to Alicia Walton as Natalie and Tj Montgomery as her boyfriend, Henry. Their connection, acting as well as vocally, was quite lovely. Together, they were funny, tender, conflicted, and sweet and it was a joy watching them together. I enjoyed all of their interactions. One particular scene where Natalie reveals her fears to Henry was particularly touching.

Performances of NEXT TO NORMAL run through this weekend September 28 and 29 at 8 PM and at 2 PM on Sunday September 30 at the Barn in the Park on Adams Street in Troy. Tickets are $16 each and are available by calling the theatre box office at 937-339-7700 or online at troycivictheatre.com.

PLEASE NOTE: The show is considered rated PG-13, due to adult language and situations and a strobe light is featured during the production.

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From This Author Jenni Cypher

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