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BWW Review: NEXT TO NORMAL Captivates at JAG Productions' Theater on the Hill


An outdoor concert staging of the Tony Award-winning musical at King Arthur Baking Company.

BWW Review: NEXT TO NORMAL Captivates at JAG Productions' Theater on the Hill As dusk settled on the lawn of King Arthur Baking Company, the lawn was packed with theater enthusiasts hoping for a night of entertainment. JAG Productions' concert staging of the Tony award-winning musical, NEXT TO NORMAL, delivered a story that was nuanced and powerful. With a talented cast of six performers, one could easily forget that this was a staged concert, as the acting and singing were captivating.

Soara-Joye Ross' portrayal of Diana, a wife and mother who happens to have bipolar, is powerful and emotional. From the first few moments of the show and through her entire character arc she shows a vocal and emotional range that inevitably has the audience rooting for her all the way to the end. With Diana's husband, Dan, played by Akron Watson, and their daughter Natalie, played by Daelynn Jorif, the complexity of mental illness and how it affects everyone in a family unit is deftly portrayed in this production. These three show the dynamics of how a family grapples with mental illness, and how it can consume the attention of every member of the family. With Dan's worry and care, and Natalie's indifference and anger, these three characters duet and emotionally duel and leave the audience feeling empathy for each of them.

Overall, NEXT TO NORMAL is written with a sense that words matter, and it continually plays with how humans find meaning in things like "fine" and "mad" and "normal". It duels and duets with the nuances of the human experience, and this staged concert delivered on that. This performance by JAG Productions left audiences with a heartfelt understanding of what it means to find your own normal, and a sense of celebration that theater is alive and well in the Upper Valley.

Photo Credit: Morgan Donohue

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