Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of Musical Stage Company's NEXT TO NORMAL at the Panasonic Theatre?

Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of Musical Stage Company's NEXT TO NORMAL at the Panasonic Theatre?NEXT TO NORMAL opened at Panasonic Theatre on April 30 and is running through May 19, 2019.

Winner of three Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Next to Normal explores a suburban household affected by mental illness. With a gripping story and a surging contemporary rock score, Next to Normal is a raw depiction of a family in crisis trying to overcome the past.

Starring internationally acclaimed Ma-Anne Dionisio (Miss Saigon, Les Misérables) and featuring a powerhouse ensemble of Canada's top performers, Dora Award-winner Philip Akin directs an exhilarating new production of this favourite contemporary musical.

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Let's see what critics have to say!

Karen Fricker, Toronto Star: The musical abilities of the cast of this Musical Stage Company production (presented by David Mirvish) are not in question: they sing the challenging score extremely well under Lily Ling's music direction. What's not yet present in Philip Akin's staging are the layers of characterization and relationship that come through in the songs - the music's still in charge here, while it's the feeling that needs to be.

Glenn Sumi, Now Magazine: Unfortunately, this production doesn't offer much else that's very interesting. Apart from its insights into how mental illness affects a patient's entire family, Brian Yorkey's weak book feels underdeveloped, and the show's timeline can feel confusing. And the songs, with music by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Yorkey, are often on the nose in their obviousness.

Wayne Leung, Mooney on Theatre: I do wish the musical staging were more dynamic; particularly with the character of Gabe who factors into his mother's illness in a way that I thought could've been more interestingly illustrated through the movement design. The minimalist set also sometimes leaves actors too out in the open, looking a bit unnatural.

Taylor Long, BroadwayWorld: Louise Pitre has created a well-rounded Doctor Madden - professional, compassionate, and stoic. Pitre makes the most of the very low vocal lines throughout the show (usually sung by a man), but really flourishes in the Act II finale with a gorgeous belt.

Stenoodie: For this show, I wasn't impressed with the quality although the same lingering feeling of inspiration and goosebumps returned. There's just something about the songs in the musical that stayed with me. It's not supposed to be a dark musical although it definitely strays away from the light-hearted and happy subjects that Broadway musicals usually feature.

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