SHU Theatre Arts: 'Next to Normal' Review

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25 minutes of fun entertainment. 95 Minutes of sobbing.

Next to Normal is a 2008 rock musical with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt. It features a very small cast of only six actors making it prefect for the Little Theatre. Sacred Heart University’s production stars senior Julia Vezza as Diana Goodman, junior Henley Solomon as Dan Goodman, sophomore Delany Lynch as Natalie Goodman, junior Mike Villanueva as Gabe Goodman, senior Chris Faccenda as Henry, and sophomore Justin Weigel as Doctor Madden/Doctor Fine.

 

Next to Normal follows the story of the Goodman family as they struggle to cope with mom Diana’s bipolar disorder. As a result the show is very emotional and important. In fact it’s probably the most important show the Theatre Arts program has done. The show is mostly told through the musical numbers and has very little dialogue. The set is very abstract and minimalist with very few concrete set pieces. The set sort of looks like both the inside and outside of a house. The only concrete object on stage the whole show is a kitchen table with four chairs. Everything else is either suggested or brought on and off as needed. Due to the heavy nature of the show I feel it’s appropriate to give a general trigger warning for the show. If you feel that a serious depiction of mental illness and it’s affects on both the person with the illness and those around them may possibly cause you real emotional or mental harm, please stay away from Next to Normal. Additionally near the end of the first act Diana attempts suicide, if you feel that this may cause real emotional or mental harm it’s all right to stay home for this show. If you feel you can handle these serious topics with them causing you harm, I implore you to bring tissues to the show, as it’s quite sad. Despite it being quite heavy it still has moments of levity and humor.

Next to Normal runs for two hours and ten minutes and has a fifteen-minute intermission.

(Source Shutheatrearts Instagram)

Next to Normal is directed by Jerry Goehring, music directed by Leo Caursone. Seniors Patrick Robinson and Nichole Jablonski assistant direct this production. Nichole also designed the costumes. Senior Christine Seppala serves as both stage manager and lighting designer. Meanwhile sophomore Hannah Jones severs as producer. Sophomore Lauren Celentamo serves as the choreographer. While Next to Normal runs Thursday November 9th to Sunday November 12th all these shows are unfortunately sold out and the Saturday November 11th matinée is likely to sell out as well.