'Next to Normal' Brings the Broadway Experience to the Chicago Stage.


Jeremy Kushnier, Alice Ripley & Asa Somers in the National Tour of Next to Normal. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Next to Normal, the unlikely rock musical about a family dealing with bipolar disease, addiction, and electroconvulsive therapy is currently playing a limited engagement at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre. The Tony and Pulitzer prize winning show is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time–and I see a lot of very good shows.

Although I truly believe that “theater” in Chicago is second to none, this show has Broadway written all over it–in a good way. It’s the kind of big blockbuster musical that used to be second nature to Broadway.  That said, the subject matter is daring and deals with contemporary issues.

Winner of Best Actress in a Musical (2009) for her role in Next to Normal, Alice Ripley, from the the original Broadway cast, headlines the 36-week multi-city North American Tour. Ripley gives an all-out dazzling performance as the not so normal mom Diana. The rest of the touring actors, who were not part of the Broadway original, are brilliantly cast with Asa  Somers as Dan,  Curt  Hansen  (Gabe),  Emma  Hunton  (Natalie),  and Jeremy Kushnier (Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine) and Preston Sadleir (Henry).

Next to Normal features  music by Tom  Kitt,  book  and  lyrics  by  Brian  Yorkey,  musical  staging  by  Sergio  Trujillo,  and  direction  by  Michael  Greif.   The  creative  team  also  includes  Mark  Wendland  (set  design),  Jeff  Mahshie  (costume  design),  Kevin  Adams  (lighting  design),  and  Brian  Ronan  (sound  design).   Musical  direction  is  by  Bryan  Perri,  orchestrations  are  by Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt with vocal arrangements by Ann Marie Milazzo

If you can only see one show this season, see Next to Normal.  But hurry, the show only runs in Chicago through May 8, 2011 at the Bank of America Theatre.

Individual tickets are $32 to $95. They can be purchased at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices, online at BroadwayinChicago.com or by phone at 800 775 2000. Bank of America Theatre is located at 18 W. Monroe.

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