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  Next To Normal Reviews
Next To Normal
Next To Normal

Next To Normal
Writers Theatre
Thru - Jun 30, 2019

Show Information


Writers Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...If you’ve never seen “Next to Normal,” here is your chance. If you have, know that this is very much a Chicago-style take on the material, emphasizing truth and life as it is really lived, and de-glamorizing wherever possible; a quality that clearly matters to the musical director, Andra Velis Simon. Cromer is enjoying a formidable Broadway career; his work here, though, is a reminder of whence he came."
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Chris Jones



Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...The Writers Theatre revival, directed by New York-based David Cromer (returning to one of the theaters where he cut his teeth in his youth), is flawless. The casting is, to an actor, on point. Keely Vasquez, in particular, is terrific as the show's troubled protagonist; she knows just how to win our sympathy without inspiring pity."
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Jack Helbig



Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...Cromer's powerful take on Next to Normal does not disappoint. Cromer has assembled a diverse cast who can all vocally and dramatically take on the emotional wallops of composer Tom Kitt and librettist Brian Yorkey's a nearly sung-through musical."
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Scott C. Morgan



Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...The score includes several songs that burrow into your ear, and under the music direction of Andra Velis Simon, the cast members take subtle liberties with Kitt’s music to emphasize emotional beats. Vasquez and Schlumpf are outstanding as the codependent couple at the center of the story, and all of the actors—including Gabriel Ruiz in two supporting roles as Diana’s doctors—shade their characters with notable empathy. There are no villains in Yorkey’s book: only flawed, sometimes selfish people who sometimes end up at odds."
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Alex Huntsberger



ShowBizChicago- Highly Recommended

"...Next to Normal is not to be missed as it proves the importance and necessity of theatre by its awareness Whether there is another school shooting, a teen suicide or a friend who disconnects, Next To Normal allows us to view our own societal prejudices on mental illness and begin a conversation that can change lives."
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Michael J. Roberts



Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Highly Recommended

"...The cast of Next to Normal is blended with amazing members who have graced Chicagoland theaters with several Courter, Levy, Oh, and Vasquez making their debut at Writers Theatre. Vasquez really brings to life the character of Diana Goodman, the manic depress mother, and wife that can’t deal with a life-changing event in her life. And who doesn’t feel for Dan Goodman, played fantastically by David Schlumpf. The husband that failed has stood by his wife and has to make a choice between electrotherapy, which may bring his wife back to him and cause him to lose her forever."
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Rick and Brenda McCain



Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Over the years, I have seen many productions of the same show, and as I have always stated "Each production is like seeing a new one"! Every director, every cast, and every set makes the show seem different and of course, the interpretation can change the entire character of the production. When I first witnessed "Next to Normal" with a book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, I was anxious to see how a musical could be created that would touch people dealing with mental problems. This play is now ten years old, and seeing the current production at The Writers Theatre is my fifth time of seeing it, and I am still seeing its brilliance, just as I did in 2009."
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Alan Bresloff



WTTW- Highly Recommended

"...The question that has lingered since seeing the production is this: What did Cromer say to his actors that enabled them to find such heart and truth in this story, along with such a sense of rebellion, and how was he able to turn what in other incarnations of the show has felt so chilly and brittle into something with so much heat?"
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Hedy Weiss



Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...For audiences ready for an emotionally demanding evening of theatre, or who are simply looking for a more dramatic, grittier musical that will touch their their souls and make them think, they won’t find a finer production. David Cromer’s exquisite production, so beautifully staged and guided, helps support the argument that this jewel of a theatre, on Chicago’s North Shore, deserves its place among America’s finest regional theatres. This is a magnificent production that shouldn’t be missed. It’s hard to imagine that any other musical this season will top the multi-layered emotional excellence found in Writers Theatre’s “Next to Normal.”"
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Colin Douglas



Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Highly Recommended

"...In addition to its brilliance as drama, “Next to Normal” grabs the viewer as a ”There but for the grace of God go I” experience. The excellent notes in the show playbill state that 5.7 million people suffer from bipolar disorder in this country, and for some viewers this show may possess special relevance. The playbill describes the bipolar condition in admirable layman’s language and rewards reading before the performance begins. “Next to Normal” is not only an absorbing theatrical and dramatic experience, it performs a public service by enlightening viewers about an illness that rivals Alzheimer’s disease in its heartbreaking assault on the human mind and spirit."
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Dan Zeff



Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Highly Recommended

"...This is a haunting, disturbing, roller-coaster of a show that takes its audiences through the full range of human emotion through omniscient presence examining gut-wrenching reality set to a stunning, Tony award-winning score."
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Barry Reszel



Chicago Theater and Arts- Highly Recommended

"...“Next to Normal” is a heart-wrenching drama about a husband who keeps trying to help his wife combat what has been diagnosed as bi-polar depression triggered by the death of their young son early in their marriage and about their teenage daughter who no matter how successful she is in school, can’t get the attention she deserves and craves."
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Jodie Jacobs



Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...Next to Normal asks us to examine one of the most common, yet culturally stigmatized, problems families can come up against: mental illness. Diana's is extreme, but any such problem can threaten to untie the threads that bind a family together. What remains for the Goodmans to hope for is not a normal life but "something next to normal," and this powerful musical demands that we redefine what "normal" even is. Its view of life is dark at times, as befits its themes, but in the end all of the characters agree that they "need some light" as they sing a final, more hopeful number that shows that they have passed the point of trying to hide from Diana's illness and maybe, somehow, they can forge a new life."
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Karen Topham



PicksInSix- Highly Recommended

"..."Next to Normal" is a deeply personal experience, briskly staged by Cromer on a glistening Regina García set, and packed with opportunities to explore our own feelings, the confusion and pain that mental illness brings to those we love, and our own inability to cope. Recognizing that a problem exists and seeking professional help is the first step. Then it becomes an exploration that can often lead to losing one's ability to make his or her own decisions. The question then becomes: Is the risk worth the outcome, even if all the alternatives have been considered? And where does it go from there? According to Dan, "The truth of it is no one really knows.""
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Ed Tracy



Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...NEXT TO NORMAL lays bare the harsh consequences of Diana's condition on her family. Love does not triumph over mental illness. And yet it matters. "Do you know what it's like to die alive?" asks Diana. Amid all the pharmaceuticals for such a troubled mind, love is the only medicine that can reach the soul."
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Susan Lieberman



Rescripted- Highly Recommended

"...I don’t need to tell you how good of a musical Next to Normal is; it won a Pulitzer. Nor is it a surprise that Tony-winning director David Cromer has created a masterful evening of small and terrifyingly intimate moments with a deft, spare, and nuanced hand. Instead, I’d like to focus on why this show had me weeping uncontrollably for most of its second act, and how I think it got there."
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Aaron Lockman