Fab Nobs' Production of Next to Normal
It was with trepidation that I attended last night’s performance of Next to Normal at Fab Nobs Theatre. Having seen the production on Broadway (twice), the US touring production and the recent attempt by the MTC, I was very nervous about attending a production put on by a small community theatre group. As my friends and I sat in the audience, we scoured the web for reviews of the show and I have to say that we almost left after reading the review posted on this site. However, as it was in stark contrast to the other review we read, we stayed (but we were poised to flee however!).
I have now subscribed to this site simply to share with fellow theatre-goers my thoughts on what was an outstanding, polished and mature production. I must start by saying that this production leaves the MTC attempt dead in the water on all accounts – and thank god, because it has restored my faith that an Australian company can do this production justice.
Of course, the reviewer is entitled to his or her view – as are we all – but I need to share my thoughts as an audience member who passionately loves Next to Normal.
To compare Lizzie Matjacic (who plays Diana) to the Broadway recording of Alice Ripley is inappropriate to say the least. I have seen Alice perform in this role twice and while this production doesn’t have the big budget, it is my opinion that Ms Matjacic’s portrayal of Diana is far superior to Ms Ripley’s; both in realism and vocal quality. The quality of her voice and the raw emotion of her character is so grounded and has so much depth. We read another review that described Ms Matjacic as ‘luminescent’ and that she is. There is no time during the performance when she is not living the role and laying herself bare. I would listen to her sing this role over anyone else, any day. This role was written for her in every way.
Jonathan Guthrie-Jones is equally brilliant in the role of Dan. Vocally superb and every bit the supportive spouse; he sang the pants off the role and his depth of character is just heart-breaking. I am sure I was not alone in the audience in wanting to comfort him towards the end of the show. He was simply marvellous.
Kate Warner also warrants a special mention as the daughter Natalie. So often this role can come across as whiney and needy and she was none of that. With two power-house performances to contend with, she could have been lost in this production, but she more than held her own. She sings the role beautifully; her duet with Diana was one of the highlights of the show for me.
It needs to be said that this production deserves to be seen. This is not a “community” production by any stretch of the imagination. The only thing that's “community” is the nice people who greeted us in the foyer. I have never seen such a professional production in every sense of the word. It is so moving to see such a high standard of actors working so brilliantly together and with such an understanding of the complexities of the journey.
I beg the readers of this site to see this production themselves. You will be rung out and exhausted, but totally elated by the experience. This production should have been sponsored by Kleenex - or the company should have at least provided Kleenex for sale at interval!
I congratulate your company for putting on such a brilliant show. If this is the standard of a Fab Nobs show then I will come again. I thank god that I didn't let the horrendous MTC production put me off seeing it again. You have restored my love for this production.