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Marsha Maxwell

Fresh, Raw and Stunning: 'Next to Normal' Touches the Heart

By September 26, 2011

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If you've been thinking about seeing Next to Normal at Pioneer Memorial Theatre, stop thinking and go. The show is in the middle of its run and continues until Saturday, Oct. 1. I wasn't sure what I was going to think of this Pulitzer Prize-winning rock opera, since I have a low tolerance for overwrought melodrama, but Next to Normal is a very real, very human portrait of a family torn by grief and mental illness.

The plot of Next to Normal revolves around Diana, a suburban mother who suffers from bipolar disorder, and many of the songs focus on her symptoms and her struggle to find effective treatment. Diana's illness inevitably affects her husband and daughter, who have struggles of their own.

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Photo: Matt Dengler as Gabe, Ephie Aardema as Natalie, Jonathan Rayson as Dan, Judy McLane as Diana. By Alexander Weisman.

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