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REVIEW: Bruka’s “Next to Normal” Far Superior to Normal

By Dana Nollsch
Published: Last Updated on

A modern day tearjerker set to a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack.

First off, I have to say that this rock ‘n’ roll musical is an unflinching look at mental illness and the way personal tragedy can take a family to a dark path. This story is deep and very compelling, as well as emotionally moving.

Written by Brian Yorkey with music by Tom Kitt, “Next to Normal” is the winner of three 2009 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Score, and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.

Not for the faint of heart, “Next to Normal” will bring the audience to a very deep emotional state. The story absorbing, and the acting, music, stage, lighting, and directing captivates its audience. This is now, for me, the standard for a modern musical.

The story looks at a woman who suffers from many mental disorders triggered by a personal tragedy and coloring the life of her husband and daughter for 18 years. The characters are portrayed flawlessly by the cast. I was mesmerized by each character and found myself emotionally moved beyond where I could have imagined.

When you are offered tissue at the start of the show, take it. You will need it.

If you are looking for an intelligent, no-holds-barred evening of music and theater, “Next to Normal” is the perfect choice for you.

Directed by John Frederick
Musical Director Cami Thompson

The Cast

Diana – Cori Lynne Cooper
Gabe  – Thomas Thompson
Dan – Ryan Kelly
Natalie – Natalie Gonzalez
Henry – Wesley Adam Walmsley
Dr. Fine/Dr. Madden- Adam Semas
Ensemble/Understudy – Elise Van Dyne

The Band

Conductor – Cami Thompson
Piano/Keyboard -Ricia Brewer/Eric Kao
Violin – Megan Zingo
Cello- Aaron Hauser/Eli Trimble
Guitar – Dylan Faulkner
Bass – Branden McKinnon
Drums – Jay Larson

“Next to Normal” plays through the month of July at Bruka Theatre. For more information, check out Bruka’s website:  http://www.bruka.org/ And check out Bruka’s preview video below.

Remember, if you see a performance you think deserves notice nominate them for a Forte Award. The nominations close July 17. Here is a link to the Forte Awards website: https://forteawards.com/

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