Tuesday, February 04, 2020

"Next to Normal" at the Kennedy Center

Content warning: use and abuse of both prescription and non prescription drugs, suicidal ideation, depictions of mental illness

So I had never seen "Next to Normal" live but was familiar with both the cast album and the storyline.
This was part of the Kennedy Center's Broadway Stage series. As such the set was minimalist. They made full use of the space, using three levels, such that I felt an activity tracker might rack up a lot of steps for the performers. Also the props included real food, real candles and a real bong. I never know if actors prefer real fire on the stage candles, but I appreciated it.
The cast was amazing, although one of the performers needed to cough during the first song and just sang through it. (It happens, but it was noticeable.)
The show is about a family matriarch struggling with mental illness, and how that affects both her and her family, and the sturggles associated with finding the right treatment balance.
As I said, I was aware of the plot, and given the lack of visible surprise at the reveal late in the first act, it seemed most of the audience was too. But seeing it performed, especially with a fabulous cast was great.