I'm a bit of a Broadway junkie. Particularly Broadway musicals. In fact, I LOVE them. So whenever my work takes me to New York, I try to arrange my schedule so I can see a show. Often, I'll just see what's available at the very last minute. Since I need only one ticket, it's usually pretty easy to get good seats to something.
Well, I was in New York yesterday for an unexpected trip and decided to see Next to Normal again. I saw it for the first time about six months ago and just adored it and thought it was time to see it again. Sometimes I think I appreciate a show more the second time because I can sit back and enjoy it rather than having to worry about following the plot.
Anyway, Next to Normal is not the "traditional" Broadway musical. The story is about a mother who struggles with worsening bipolar disorder and the effect that her illness has on her family. It's not a light subject, and the show recognizes that, but the music is just incredible. And there is a significant plot twist that I never saw coming. Alice Ripley is breathtaking as the mother and so deserved the Tony she won for this performance. One of the reviews described the show as "agonizingly beautiful," which is a perfect description.
The Next to Normal website (http://www.nexttonormal.com/) has a nice sampling of the music, though--as with most musicals--I don't think you can really appreciate it until you actually see the show. (Be careful--it's one of those websites where the music starts blasting right away so maybe not suitable for work!)