Next to Normal: Bloomington Civic Theater


Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize that I am fortunate to live in such a theatre-rich place littered with beautifully talented people. I have to remind myself how spoiled I am to consume high-quality art, and consume it often. I sometimes have to tell myself to stop criticizing, and appreciate what’s happening in front of me because I am fortunate enough to experience it.

These thoughts were inspired by a jaunt to Bloomington Civic Theater to see the Pulitzer Prize winning musical, Next to Normal.

Next to Normal is the story of a mother dealing with mental illness and the impact it has on her family. Can the Pulitzer Prize crew give out multiples, because, dang, this story deserves another. There were moments where I caught a glimpse inside theimg_9414mind of a person dealing with a mental illness and the overwhelming reality of that. It would be so insanely frustrating to be stuck in a different reality than the people around you. The greatest stories are the ones that get you thinking and provide you with a perspective you may have not considered before. This is Next to Normal in a nutshell. Bravo to you Brian Yorkey!

As for the performance itself, it was pretty good. I feel the need to mention that I went on a Thursday evening toward the end of the run of this production and was part of a crowd that maybe half-filled the theater. The energy levels seemed a little down. Not only is the story so emotionally charged, but the music is difficult, the staging was pretty physical, and the singers need to have major chops. I could tell that everyone involved was pretty insanely talented. Unfortunately, I felt like things weren’t always clicking. I should also mention that the supporting musicians were behind the set on stage. I imagine this makes things tricky for the actors. Things were at times pitchy and not always on beat. I hate to be critical, but I was just bummed because I can tell that it could have been better perhaps on a different night.

So, here is my review in a few brief bullets:

– Extremely talented cast.

– Moments of brilliance.

– I KNOW it could have been better. I’ve learned my lesson to avoid weeknights.

Without a doubt, I recommend checking this show out. You have one week to get tickets. Check out Goldstar, I was able to get half-price tickets! Such a steal!


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