Thursday, April 30, 2009

What doesn't kill me...doesn't kill me: "Next to Normal" on B'way

In addition to the varied interests I've already described on this blog, I am passionate about the performing arts, namely theatre and ballet. I can almost always tell you what the latest show on B'way is, who's in the cast, and what NYCBallet and ABT have on their program for the week.

Spoiling me as he does, last night The Bunny surprised me with tickets to "Next to Normal," the new Broadway triumph. He was inspired to buy tickets a few weeks ago after reading Ben Brantley's glowing review in the NYTimes.

Photo courtesy of NYTimes

In many ways, this story about a troubled family is a concoction of the best elements from some of my favorite shows. The trauma of an "imaginary" child, and the death of that child, from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" makes an appearance here. The desire to feel pain as confirmation of life evokes of Dysart's jealousy of Strang's pseudo-religion (however dysfunctional) in "Equus." The grab-you-by-the-heart intensity recalls many moments in "The Last Five Years." I really loved this show. The Bunny wasn't quite as thrilled, but I think it's mostly because Brantley's review set the bar impossibly high.

In general, the performances were admirable. I admit I wasn't completely won over by the actors playing the mother and father. The real standouts were Jennifer Damiano, who played the daughter, and Aaron Tveit, who played the son. Gossip Girl fans will recognize Aaron as Nate Archibald's cousin, Tripp Vanderbilt, from the "Seder Anything" episode. He is lovely in real life, and has incredible vocal training; he will woo you from the first note.

You can watch clips of the show here:

There were a number of stars in the audience, including Alan Alda, who was seated directly behind me. It was interesting to observe the things he laughed at...namely, all the jokes that were NOT funny. Ah, well. I never liked MASH anyway.

Let me know if you see the show and we can swap opinions! And if anyone needs a theatre or ballet buddy, I am always game.


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