The Pulitzer and Tony award winning musical, Next To Normal, by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitts, is a force to be reckoned with. For its Long Island premier, now playing through June 23rd, Jeffrey Sanzel's incarnation of this dark, rock musical at Theatre Three provides the audience with an honest and heartbreaking glimpse into a family dealing with many varied emotions.
Diana, a mother and wife, has been struggling with bi-polar disorder for years. She is married to Dan (Steve McCoy) and they have two children, Gabe (Dylan Whelan) and Natalie (Marissa Girgus). They live a typical suburban life, but her disease is tearing her family apart. After meeting with her doctors, Dr. Fine and Dr. Madden (both portrayed by Steve Ayle) Diana undergoes electro-shock therapy despite its immense risks in hopes of fixing everything.
Linda May was sublime as Diana. Her performance of "You Don't Know" brought me to tears; there were moments where you could feel her unbearable pain. What struck me most was, at the beginning, you thought she was fine and then she's making sandwiches on the floor. I overheard wonderful comments on how she, in essence, brought awareness of the pain to those who may not have dealt with this disease.
Also brilliant was Theatre Three veteran Steve McCoy as Dan. The performance of "Who's Crazy" / "My Psychopharmacologist and I" spoke of who is the actual crazy person as Dan tries to cope and really let Dan's vulnerability come through.
Marissa Girgus was fantastic as Natalie, the troubled, young, overachieving daughter. Her beautiful voice shined when she performed "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" with Gabe. She meets classmate Henry, portrayed by Brett Chizever, and they begin to date. Her troubles take a toll on her as she begins to experiments with drugs and clubbing and Henry tries to help her deal with her demons.
The band, lead by Ellen Michelmore, was amazing. They were practically sitting in the audience. Their close proximity was extremely effective, taking everything on stage to another level. Rounding out the band was Jim Carroll on Drums, Mike Chiusano on Bass, Mike Orioles on Guitar, Nicole Cagione on Violin, and Annette Perry-Delihas on Cello.
Theatre Three's presentation of Next To Normal captured the heartache a family through great acting and moving music. Head over to Port Jefferson, Long Island to see why Next To Normal is a Tony and Pulitzer winner... and bring tissues.
Next To Normal is presented by Theatre Three of Port Jefferson, Long Island through June 23rd. Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, Music Direction by Ellen Michelmore, Scenic Design by Randall Parsons, Costume Design by Kristy Leigh Hall, Lighting Design by Robert W. Henderson, JR, Properties by Julie Hoffman, Technical Direction Neil Creedon of Avancy, Production Stage Manager is Michelle Manda. For more information and to purchase tickets please call 631-928-9100 or visit theaterthree.com