Next to Normal, as we know it now, began on Broadway in 2009 and ran for 733 performances. The plot’s centred on Diana (a mother who suffers from bipolar, anxiety, mood swings and delusions), her husband Dan, and daughter Natalie. During the course of the play, Diana goes through a series of doctors and treatments for her illness while her husband and daughter cope with the after effects.
Doorstep Arts’ production boasts a stellar cast of musical theatre veterans alongside amazing up and coming talent, and they don’t let you down. Natalie O’Donnell is perfect as Diana, imbuing the character with strength, humour and vulnerability. O’Donnell demonstrated mastery of acting through song, and had the audience in both tears and laughter on a number of occasions. Mark Dickinson as Dan sang beautifully and fully embodied a father trying to keep a family together. Dickinson and O’Donnell performed “How Could I Ever Forget?” together flawlessly, to the point it brought me to tears.
Brent Trotter has a powerful voice which he puts to full use in “I’m Alive”, and he handled his character’s darker moments with ease. Kiane O’Farrell was excellent as the overachieving ‘invisible’ daughter Natalie. O’Farrell was able to bring a great sense of longing to her character which enabled the audience to empathise with her character throughout the play. Zoy Frangos and Clay Roberts took on supporting roles as Dr Fine/Madden and Henry, and both were brilliant with moments of comedy to help lighten the mood of the show.
Darylin Ramondo’s direction was excellent, an inspired staging concept and she obviously guided her actors superbly. Musical direction by Trevor Jones was amazingly tight and precise.
I cannot say enough wonderful things about this production. It is THE BEST piece of theatre I have ever seen – amateur or professional. Perfectly performed, perfectly directed and amazingly written.
Please do yourself a favour and book tickets to this phenomenal show! The show runs till the 22nd of March at GPAC’s Drama Theatre. Tickets can be booked at http://www.gpac.org.au/
A show not to be missed!