Next to Normal
"Next to Normal" at the Onyx Theater centers around Diana Goodman who has been having trouble letting go of her son Gabe, who died 18 years ago. Diana’s husband Dan does his best to be supportive, but is also on the brink of a breakdown himself.
Their daughter Natalie feels left out as all of the attention is given to her dead brother whom she never even met. All of the strife may not necessarily lead to happiness, but at least an understanding of where everyone is coming from.
I saw the original production on Broadway, starring Alice Ripley, 2009 Tony award winner for Best Actress in a Musical. And while I liked the Broadway version, I absolutely loved this version. The show was superb from the top down. First off, all of the vocalists were top rate.
The tempos in the songs were certainly challenging, but everyone in the cast was equal to the task. Briona Daugherty (Diana Goodman) was outstanding as the lead. I appreciated the fact that she did not offer a copycat performance of Ripley, but rather made the role her own.
Corey Benway (Dan Goodman) did an excellent job as the husband who was struggling to understand his wife’s woes. Kirstin Maki (Natalie Goodman) was outstanding as the daughter. I feel that many in the audience who have siblings could easily relate to her feeling left out and furthermore resentful of all the attention awarded her dead brother.
Jason Kreitz (Gabe Goodman) did an outstanding job as the son, who is also struggling to let go, many years after his death. I was quite surprised to learn that Kreitz is not pursuing theater at UNLV. His acting and vocals would certainly indicate otherwise.
Anthony Dean Meyer (Henry) was excellent as Natalie’s boyfriend who gets caught in the middle of the family turmoil, but manages to stay supportive all the same. Perhaps my favorite actor for this production was Glenn Heath (Dr. Fine/Dr. Madden). He offered much needed comic relief to an otherwise dark story, while being sympathetic and supportive of Diana and her family throughout the show.
Director and Scenic Designer Steve Huntsman did an outstanding job staging this musical. The set was reminiscent of Broadway (on a much smaller scale, of course), using levels to define the multiple locations throughout the show. I feel that the intimacy of The Onyx further enhanced my appreciation and enjoyment of this version.
Musical Director Shannon Winkel did an excellent job preparing the actors for a difficult score. Their diction was crisp and the harmonies were outstanding. Lighting designer Erika Courtney also did an excellent job pinpointing the various moods of the show.
"Next To Normal" is an absolute must-see. The story is challenging, the staging is excellent, and the acting and vocals are top rate. Visitors and Las Vegas locals alike need to make the one and a half mile trip east of the Strip to see this show.
"Next To Normal" runs through March 23 at The Onyx Theatre, 953-16B East Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas. For tickets or info, call 702-732-7225 or visit www.onyxtheatre.com.