Next to Normal tells the story of what at first appears to be a "normal" American family, until the cracks begin to show. Diana and her husband Dan married young and started a family. They suffered a great tragedy that triggered Diana's bipolar disorder, which she's been dealing with for years. Everyone in the family suffers in their own way. Dan has to be the strong one as Diana falls apart, and therefore never gets the chance to deal with his own feelings about what happened. Their children, Gabe and Natalie, live in the shadow of the tragedy and are trying to deal with it on top of the normal problems that come with adolescence. Natalie's afraid that she'll follow in her mother's footsteps, and Diana's unable to be the mother that she wants to be. Diana hits rock bottom and undergoes ECT, aka shock therapy. It erases her memories, both the good and the bad, and she struggles to get her life and family back. Eventually they learn that there is no such thing as a "normal" family; all families look different and are dealing with their own unique issues, both big and small. The Goodmans struggle to find a way to get through theirs, and show us just what is possible with love.
|Diana and Dan|
(Jessica Lind Peterson and Jeremiah Gamble,
photo by Michal Daniel)
|the cast of Next to Normal (photo by Michal Daniel)|
If you haven't yet ventured out to Osseo to visit Yellow Tree Theatre, well, you're just not paying attention. They've always done great work but are really stepping up their game lately as they continue to challenge their audience and bring in top talent from around the Twin Cities. Next season is sure to be a continuation of this trend as they tackle some more intense pieces, including the Tony winning play Clybourne Park, and another one of my favorite musicals, the lovely and inspiring journey of Violet. But first, don't miss this beautifully heartbreaking production of one of the best musicals of this century. Tickets are selling fast but they have added a few performances, so get to the website or call the box office and snatch them up before they're gone!