Thoughts: New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley's quip, "It is something much more than a feel-good musical: it is a feel-everything musical" appeared on promotional material across New York and is now the first blurb on the back of the printed edition of the play. True, this is a far cry from other huge-grossing Broadway musicals, but not just because of it's subject matter. When the play came out, comparisons to Rent were immediately drawn due to the pop-like musical score. However, unlike Rent, Next to Normal is not a musical of memorable songs that will be used in advertising and hummed on the way out of the theatre. I saw this musical in New York three months ago. While reading the text of the songs in the recently published Pulitzer edition of the play, I was only faintly reminded of the tune of these songs (highly unusual for me).
Next to Normal is unquestionably a different kind of musical. Much of the play is very dark, and even the moments of sung tenderness are underscored with the feeling that this is a family that can never be truly happy. When I saw this play, I liked it. I was moved. I did not love it and I was not overwhelmed like countless people told me that I would be. Having read two of the other three 2010 nominees (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and In the Next Room), I wonder if Next to Normal won the Pulitzer because it is, in fact, a "different kind of musical."
Next to Normal set, Broadway: August 2010.
Strange, great lottery seats obtained by Jessica Watkins.