Next To Normal at the Coronado Playhouse is an incredible musical. I was not prepared for how amazing this production would be – my only regret is that I did not review it sooner!
Filled with emotion, superb talent, and powerful messages, Next To Normal wows guests as part of the Coronado Playhouse’s 2018 Season, A Family Affair. This musical provides two hours of escape to examine a suburban family’s despair and love in a thoughtful, witty, sensitive and important delivery.
- In short, it is about a mother battling bi-polar disorder in the aftermath of heartbreak. It examines the steps to rebuild an individual and a family, diving in and out of complications tested by various coping strategies and revealing the hard truths such mood disorders may bring to a family unit.
In an effort to support awareness for those living in San Diego County with mood disorders, the Playhouse partnered with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of San Diego during the run of this production. It is a priority of the Coronado Playhouse to give back to the community by using their public platform to help those in need.
The musical takes place mostly between a family home, a high school, and a medical office. It does contain adult language, but the words complement the show rather than detract from it.
There are seven characters in the play: A husband and wife (Dan and Diana), their daughter (Natalie), her boyfriend (Henry), two doctors (Dr. Fine and Dr. Madden), and a son (Gabe). They were funny, touching, sensitive, familiar, and honest. The audience laughed throughout the musical, and more than once, wept. I heard plenty of hushed sniffles, especially near the end of the show. Next To Normal was very well-done, but I especially loved the music and the complex character development.
The playhouse itself is unique in its set-up and ambiance. Guests sit at round tables of four, in an intimate, 100-seat cabaret-style theater. There is a nice snack booth where you can purchase beverages and treats for a reasonable price. In this production, the musical performers sat on stage, just behind the main set and the actors, and they were fantastic, as well. The lyrics and music from Next To Normal were fun, raw, and masterfully done to evoke the right kind of emotion that each scene called for.
The score, by Tom Kitt (If/Then, American Idiot, Freaky Friday), received three Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The New York Times has called it “much more than a feel-good musical; it is a feel-everything musical.”