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Electrifying Pulitzer Winner Musical
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama Winner of three Tony Awards for Best Original Score, Best Orchestration and Best Performance, Next to Normal, is proudly presented by Doorstep Arts as part of the Hayes Theatre Co's program for 2015.
Next to Normal is one of America's most hyped and anticipated musicals and you can expect a winning Hit Broadway Musical with poignant lyrics and a powerful contemporary rock score.
Next to Normal is about a middle class mother's struggle with severe mental illness and the impact that has upon her family. It is an insightful and fiercely honest story about love, loss and family life.
We meet a normal suburban family, the Goodmans. The mother Diana (played by Natalie O'Donnell) is experiencing a serious relapse into bipolar episodes as she struggles to let go of her deceased son Gabe (played by Brent Trotter). When the shadow of Gabe looms in, Diana's mental illness becomes more severe.
The watchful father, Dan (played by Anthony Harkin), is devoted to getting Diana better by sending her to see various doctors while he tries to cope with his depression and anxiety on his own.
When the cocktail of antipsychotic, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant prescriptive mediations no longer suppress Diana's mental instability, the treating Doctor (played by Alex Rathgeber) suggested ECT treatment.
Meanwhile, the neglected daughter Natalie (played by Kiane O'Farrell) shows rebellion, frustration and going off the rails as her relationship with her mother deteriorates.
The cast is phenomenally brilliant. Natalie O'Donnell's voice is simply incredible and captivating. Joining Natalie in the cast are some of Australia's finest musical theatre talent including Anthony Harkin (Avenue Q, Shane Warne The Musical), Alex Rathgeber (An Officer And A Gentleman, Fiddler on the Roof), Brent Trotter (Jersey Boys, Four Seasons In One Night), Kiane O'Farrell (Carrie: The Musical, 42nd Street) and Clay Roberts (CATS, Thoroughly Modern Millie).
My theatre loving companion thought the show was fabulous and the set production 'excellent in both design and execution'. The casts frequent chalk-drawing of the world around them (and a reflection to their internal worlds) on the floors and walls of the black space is a clever artistic directional move.
As for me, I was captivated the moment Diana entered onto the stage with "my son's a little shit, my husband's boring; and my daughter is a genius but a freak".
The set may look simple in black but the music helps to pull all the elements together. The cast is great, the dialogue is very funny and you will really, truly ask yourself "What is Normal?" at the end.
This is a brave black musical comedy depicting the effects of mental health on family. Next to Normal only lightly touches the surface of the inner turmoil and adopts a lighter approach to the seriousness of the mental condition. Some may be critical of its hopeful ending, but personally I think it sent out a positive message of support and love to those who are suffering.
Next to Normal is one of the shows that will delight a variety of audiences and make you think outside of the 'normal' box.
The Hayes Theatre Company is located in Potts Point and it is one of the independent music theatre ventures in Sydney. The space is relatively small and the theatre can get quite warm during the show with all the spot-light projections.
Next to Normal will rival the heavily commercial musicals that fill the main stages at the Capitol and Lyric theatres. It is scheduled to play at the Hayes Theatre Company in Sydney until 1 February 2015.
It is an opportunity to see a great live theatre and not to be missed!