Next to normal

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Next to Normal is a musical by Brian Yorkey ( libretto ) and Tom Kitt (music). It tells the story of a mother who suffers from bipolar disorder and the impact it has on her family. The musical also deals with topics such as grieving a loss, suicide , drug addiction , ethics in modern psychiatry and life in the suburbs .

The musical won the 2009 Tony Award in the categories of “Best Original Score” (Tom Kitt [music] and Brian Yorkey [libretto]), “Best Orchestration” (Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt), and “Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical "(Alice Ripley). The show was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including “Best Musical”. There were several workshop performances of Next to Normal prior to its Off-Broadway debut in 2008. The show won the Outer Critics' Circle Award for Outstanding Achievement and Alice Ripley received a nomination for the Drama Desk Award for best Leading actress. After becoming a success on off-Broadway, the play was performed at the Arena Stage in Crystal City, Virginia from November 2008 to January 2009 before premiering on Broadway in April 2009 and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded.


Workshops and reading samples

The musical, which was originally called Feeling Electric , was first presented at a reading in the Cutting Room in New York City in 2002, with Norbert Leo Butz as Dan and Sherie Rene Scott as Diana, followed by a staged reading in October 2002 at the musical Mondays Theater Lab in New York .

In 2005 the play was shown for the first time in a workshop performance at the Village Theater ( Issaquah ), with Amy Spanger as Diana, Mary Faber as Natalie and Deven May as Dr. Madden. In September 2005, the Barrow Group Arts Center production took part in the New York Musical Theater Festival, with Amy Spanger as Diana, Joe Cassidy as Dan, Annaleigh Ashford as Natalie and Anthony Rapp as Dr. Madden. The Second Stage Theater produced the play in 2006 and 2007 with Joe Cassidy and Greg Edelman as Dan, Alice Ripley as Diana, Mary Faber and Phoebe Strole as Natalie, Anthony Rapp as Dr. Madden / Dr. Fine and Skylar Astin as Henry.

Off-Broadway and Pre-Broadway productions

Next to Normal was played on Off-Broadway under its current name in the Second Stage Theater (from January 16 to March 16, 2008; Director: Michael Greif, with Anthony Rapp as assistant director and under the musical direction of Sergio Trujillo). Alice Ripley as Diana and Brian d'Arcy James as Dan were already in the cast at the time. The family's last name was changed from Brown to Goodman. The show received mixed reviews, with critics writing that it was showing an irresponsible message about treating bipolar disorder and that the right balance between pathos and humor had not been struck.

After the play was reworked, a pre-Broadway production ran at the Arena Stage Theater in Crystal City , VA. Michael Greif again directed. Alice Ripley and most of the off-Broadway cast took part in this production, but Brain d'Arcy James stayed in New York to play the title role in the musical "Shrek" and was replaced by J. Robert Spencer. Asa Somers, the Dr. Madden and Dr. Fine was replaced by Louis Hobson. Some of the numbers have been changed and others have been replaced with songs intended to reflect the emotional content of the book. The production received rave reviews.

Broadway production 2009

On March 27th, “Next to Normal” was previewed on Broadway at the Booth Theater. The musical premiered on April 15, 2009. It was played by the cast of the Arena Stage production, directed by Michael Greif. By the end of January 2011, the musical had been played over 733 times.

German-language premiere in 2013, Austrian premiere in 2014

The German-language premiere of next to normal - almost normal took place on October 11, 2013 under the direction and in the German translation by Titus Hoffmann in the Stadttheater Fürth . The well-known cast included Pia Douwes as Diana, Thomas Borchert as Dan, Dirk Johnston as Gabe, Sabrina Weckerlin as Natalie, Dominik Hees as Henry and Ramin Dustdar as Dr. Fine or Dr. Madden. On June 3, 2014, the German original recording was released live (recorded in the Stadttheater Fürth) on CD and on itunes. Due to the great demand, the Fürth production was resumed on April 30, 2015. Everyone involved was there again - only Armin Kahl was new in the dual role of Dr Fine / Dr Madden.

The first Austrian production premiered on January 18, 2014 in the Schauspielhaus of the Landestheater Linz as the sixth production of the Linz musical ensemble, which was founded at the end of 2012. Directed by Matthias Davids , with Kristin Hölck (Diana), Reinwald Kranner (Dan), Oliver Liebl (Gabe), Lisa Antoni / Ariana Schirasi-Fard (Natalie), Christian Manuel Oliveira (Henry) and Rob Pelzer (Dr. Madden) playing .

On April 27, 2016 the German original production celebrated with Pia Douwes as Diana, Felix Martin as Dan, Dirk Johnston as Gabe, Sabrina Weckerlin as Natalie, Dominik Hees as Henry and Ramin Dustdar as Dr. Fine or Dr. Madden her Viennese premiere in the MuseumsQuartier . Pia Douwes was nominated for the Austrian Music Theater Prize 2017 for her interpretation of Diana Goodman . In April 2017 the production was shown again at the Stadttheater Fürth and for the first time at the new Dresden State Operetta.

Berlin production

On June 13, 2015, the Berlin premiere of Fast Normal , directed by Torsten Fischer and also in the German translation by Titus Hoffmann, took place in the Renaissance theater. The role of Diana was played by Katharine Mehrling . Her husband Dan was played by Guntbert Warns . The roles Natalie, Gabe and Henry were played by students from the Berlin University of the Arts. Including Dennis Hupka as a gift alternating with Jan-Philipp Rekeszus . Devi-Ananda Dahm alternates with Sophia Euskirchen as Natalie and Anthony Curtis Kirby alternates with Jan Philipp Rekeszus as Henry. The role of Dr. Fine / Dr. Madden was played by Felix Martin in alternation with Matthias Freihof . The last performance in Berlin took place on September 17, 2015.

Hessian and Swiss premiere in 2019, production by the Marburg wagon hall

On July 30, 2019, the first performance of FAST NORMAL - NEXT TO NORMAL in Hesse took place in the Marburg wagon hall. Directed by Jens Daryousch Ravari . Kurosch Abbasi took over the production management . Overall musical direction by Tom Feldrappe. In the premiere cast, Felicitas Geipel played as Diana (alternating Anjuschka Uher), Sören Flimm as Dan (alternating Yannick Bernsdorff), Lukas Sandmann as Gabe (alternating Nils-Patrik Gombert), Karoline Blöcher as Natalie (alternating Tahira Schäfer), Joshua Edelsbacher as Henry (alternating Jonas Blahowetz) and Yannick Bernsdorf as Dr. Madden / Dr. Fine (alternating Mark Wiedermann).

On October 25th and 26th, 2019, this production with the cast mentioned above was a guest at the Stadttheater Langenthal for the official Swiss premiere of the musical.


first act

Suburban mom Diana Goodman waits late for her son and comforts her fearful and overzealous daughter, Natalie. In the morning Dan, Diana's husband, helps prepare the family for another day. Diana tries to make sandwiches for the family, but they are all over the floor. When Dan helps the confused Diana, her son Gabe (whose name will only be found out at the end) quickly goes to school and Natalie to the piano practice room. There she is interrupted by Henry, a classmate who enjoys listening to her play and who is clearly interested in her.

Over the next few weeks, Diana makes a series of visits to her doctor while Dan waits outside in the car, trying to cope with his own depression. Diana has had hallucination-related bipolar disorder for sixteen years. Doctor Fine keeps changing her treatments until she says she is no longer feeling anything. At that point he declares it stable. Natalie and Henry get closer until the day he confesses his love to her and they kiss for the first time. Diana realizes this and realizes that she is past her prime, but she misses the ups and downs in her life. With Gabe's encouragement, she washes away her medication.

A few weeks later, Dan is looking forward to dinner with his family. Natalie is bringing Henry with her for the first time. But when Diana comes in with a cake and sings "Happy Birthday" to Gabe, Natalie and Dan are devastated. Dan takes Diana aside and explains that her son died 17 years ago. Dan suggests that she go back to the doctor, but Diana refuses, saying that he sure doesn't feel the same as her.

Dan tries to convince her to trust him when their son appears and convinces his mother to trust him instead of Dan. In her room, Natalie takes her anger out on Henry and refuses to accept her mother's apology. Gabe watches this and mocks her.

A few days later, Diana are working with her new doctor, Doctor Madden. Gabe tries to tell her that he's here and alive. Dan and Natalie doubt the sessions will help. Doctor Madden suggests hypnosis as a new treatment method to help Diana discover the roots of her trauma. Finally Diana realizes that it is time to let her son go. Diana goes home to throw away the things that belonged to Gabe and comes across an old music box. Gabe dances with her and then tells her to go away with him. She does it.

In the hospital, Diana lies calmly and cautiously in the bed with self-inflicted wounds on her wrists. She slashed her wrists. Doctor Madden explains to Dan that ECT treatment, which is electroshock therapy , is the standard regimen for patients who are suicidal and drug resistant. Dan goes home to clean up and decide what to do. The next day, Diana informs Doctor Madden that she refuses treatment. However, Dan convinces her with the argument that it might be her last chance.

Second act

Diana receives a series of ECT treatments over two weeks . Natalie is now trying out clubs and drugs that she found in her mother's medicine cabinet and falls into a drug frenzy. Diana has lost the last nineteen years of her memory through ECTs. She comes home but doesn't remember anything. At school, Henry tells Natalie that she avoids him. He then invites her to the spring ball.

Dan and Diana visit Doctor Madden, who explains that memory loss is normal, and encourages Dan to use photos, keepsakes, and the like to help Diana recover. Dan gathers the family to help Diana remember, even if he has little success at first. But when Natalie pulls the music box out of a pile of souvenirs, he makes them disappear and leaves Diana confused. Gabe appears, unnoticed, complaining that Diana forgot him, but that he is still with her, while Diana tells Dan that there is something she needs to remember urgently, that is on the tip of her tongue. When Henry comes looking for Natalie, Diana studies his face and asks his age. He reminds her of someone. Annoyed, Henry rushes into Natalie's bedroom to persuade her to go with him to dance the next night.

Diana goes back to Doctor Madden, who suggests that she continue researching her story and talk to her husband more. Diana goes back home and searches the boxes of keepsakes, looks for the music box. Dan tries to stop her, but the memories of Gabe come back. Diana tells Dan that she remembers Gabe older and asks him for his name. Dan refuses to answer, instead insisting that she needs further treatment. Henry comes to pick Natalie for the dance. Meanwhile, Dan tears the music box from Diana's hands and throws it on the floor.

Diana confronts Dan with the question of why he tolerates all the problems she causes him. At the same time, Natalie asked Henry the same question. Both swear to stand firm. Gabe reappears, causing Diana to see Doctor Madden.

Diana asks Doctor Madden what to do when the medicine doesn't work. Madden assures her that relapse is normal and suggests more ECTs, but Diana refuses. Natalie is depressed to find out that her mother has stopped treatment. Diana opens up to her daughter for the first time. She reminds Natalie of the dance for which Henry is already waiting for her to comfort and hug her.

Diana tells Dan that she is leaving him on the grounds that they have to work through their problems on their own. She has to take a risk and run her own business. She goes and leaves Gabe with Dan. When Dan wonders how she got out of his way, after everything they'd been through, Gabe comes over and explains to Dan that he's not going anywhere. Dan becomes more and more desperate until he finally sees him and calls him by name for the first time. This is also where the audience learns Gabe's name.

Natalie comes home, her father is sitting alone in the dark, tearful. She comforts him and turns on the light. Natalie assures him that the two will cope with the situation. Diana is alone and still hurt, but hopeful. Dan visits Doctor Madden in hopes of talking about Diana, but instead gives him the name of another therapist.

Music numbers

first act

  • Like every day (Just another day) Diana, Natalie, Dan, Gabe
  • Nothing as it was (Everything Else) Natalie
  • Who spins here / My doctor, psychotropic drugs and I (Engl. Who's crazy? / My psychopharmacologist and I) Dan, Diana, Dr. Fine, Natalie, Gabe
  • Right for you (English. Perfect for you) Natalie, Henry
  • I miss the mountains Diana
  • It's gonna be good Dan, Diana, Natalie, Henry, Gabe
  • He's gone (He's not here) Dan
  • What do you know? (Eng. You don't know) Diana, Dan
  • Nobody (I am the One) Dan, Gabe, Diana
  • Superboy and his sister made of glass (English Superboy and the Invisible Girl) Natalie, Diana, Gabe
  • I'm Alive Gift
  • Barrel the decision / Hold me, I fall (Engl. Make up your Mind / Catch me, I'm falling) Dr. Madden, Diana, Dan, Gabe, Natalie
  • I dreamd a dance Diana, Gabe
  • Come with me (There's a world) gift
  • Where is this supposed to lead? (Engl. I've been) Dan, Gabe
  • It's like in the cinema (Didn't I see this movie) Diana, Dr. Madden
  • A Light in the Dark Dan, Diana

Second act

  • If only I were there (Wish I were here) Diana, Natalie
  • Song of Forgetting Diana, Dan, Natalie
  • Hey # 1 Henry, Natalie
  • Seconds and Years Dr. Madden, Dan, Daina
  • Better than before Dr. Madden, Dan, Diana, Natalie
  • Shock afterwards (English aftershocks) gift
  • Hey # 2 Henry, Natalie
  • What do you know? (Reprise) (Eng. You don't know (Reprise)) Diana, Dr. Madden
  • How could I miss that? (English Howcould I ever forgett?) Dan, Diana
  • It's gonna be good (Reprise) Dan, Diana
  • Why? / A Promise Diana, Natalie, Dan, Henry
  • I'm Alive (Reprise) gift
  • The Break Diana, Dr. Madden
  • Make up your mind / Catch me, I'm falling (Reprise) Dr. Madden, Gabe, Diana
  • Almost normal (Maybe (Next to Normal)) Diana, Natalie
  • Hey # 3 / Right for you (reprise) / engl. Hey # 3 / Perfect for you (Reprise)) Henry, Natalie
  • I'll leave you anyway Diana
  • No man (reprise) (English I am the one (reprise)) Dan, Gabe
  • Light Dan, Natalie, Diana, Henry, Gabe

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