Pit & Balcony Theatre deserves a collective standing ovation from the regional community for bringing such a courageous, engaging, illuminating and undeniably entertaining musical as Next to Normal to life on their stage.
This Tony Award winning musical, which is also only the eighth musical in history to win a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is bristling with innovation from Director Laura Bringham and wonderfully framed by the musical textures of the score, deftly brought to life by Musical Director Loren Kranz.
Ostensibly the tale of a mother struggling with worsening bipolar disorder and the effect that her illness impacts upon her family, the prism of the story line opens wider yet upon such issues as suicide and grieving with loss, yet even more importantly dissects the ethical conflicts of modern psychiatry – specifically, the vast array of prescription medications utilized in treatment procedures that can shatter patients and their families into multi-colored fragments of mental and emotional disrepair.
Despite the serious weight of its subject matter, Next to Normal succeeds at carrying the audience through these many unturned stones that lay upon the underbelly of suburban life with levity and insightfully wry humor, largely delivered through an operatic array of musical songs that lift the weight of the action into insightful realization.
With an exceptionally strong cast comprised of Megan Eager, who carries much of the play with her poignant portrayal of the lead character Diana; William Lockhart, who portrays Diana’s dead son, and surfaces within the background of the family like a living ghost, drawing them into the recess of the past and shackling them away from any promise of liberation and freedom that comes from embracing life in the present; Danessa Hellus as Diana’s daughter, and Henry Wakie (especially effective in dual roles of Henry and Dr. Fine) take the audience on a powerful roller-coaster of realization that is rare to experience.
This is the third regional premier of a contemporary musical that Pit & Balcony has brought to life on the stage, beginning with last season’s Spring Awakening and continuing this year with Hands on a Hardbody, adding further weight to their stature of becoming a venue where ‘Broadway meets Hamilton Street’.
If you support and embrace the notion of our area and region rising to the level of offering world-class theatrical productions and artistic endeavors that are both cutting edge and transcendent, I urge you to catch the final performances of Next to Normal that play this weekend from May 15-17th.
Pit & Balcony is located at 805 N. Hamilton St and you can get tickets by phoning 989-754-6587 or by going to www.pitandbalconytheatre.com