Happy mothers day, everyone! I had a lovely day with my family. We started out with brunch at The Heights Cafe on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. We were planning on walking across the Brooklyn Bridge afterwards, but traffic for my family on the BQE put a hault on that. My best friend/former roommate Amy joined too because she was without a mother today (well, she’s just far away in upstate NY!).
Before that though, I was a ticket-buying feind in Times Square. I picked up tickets from TKTS (I’ll shoot myself in the face before waiting in that tourist heaven of a line again!) for Next to Normal for my mother and I – the guy selling them to said, “These seats are awful. They’re partial view." Who actually says that to perspective customers? Luckily, I’ve worked at the Booth Theatre, so I knew what the view was like and that it was NOT awful. So I picked those up, and then picked up tickets for Star Trek in Imax for my dad and brother on 42nd street.
Well, brunch was great – though we got stuck in traffic getting over the Brooklyn Bridge, but we jumped out of the car in front of the Booth Theatre, found out seats, and got ready! J. Robert Spencer was out, though our playbills lacked inserts – but that was okay. The only cast members I really hoped would be in were Ms. Alice Ripley and Ms. Jennifer Damiano. We sat in seats 7 & 9 in Row F. Mothers were celebrating with their children in every row!
The playbill lacked a list of musical numbers, and I wasn’t really sure why – since none of the titles really give anything away. Spoilers alerts!! Anyways, Next to Normal is about a family dealing with an over-medicated bipolar mother, who has never gotten over the death of her first son (who died at 8 months old, 19 years ago) and she still sees and talks to him. The "oh my god”-moment, which I held my breath for this time (because I saw the original production last season at Second Stage) when Natalie, the daughter, tells her boyfriend, Henry, that her brother died – and that the son that we’ve been seeing onstage isn’t actually there. There were a bunch of deep breaths and “Oh shit!"s from the audience. The music is great and energetic, the story is original, and set is visually esthetic as well as the lighting. The set reminds me of that in August Osage County, because it’s often used as a three-story house – though MUCH more minimalistically. I have no idea what they did to pull the second act together, but it was MUCH smoother and did not drag at all like it did off-Broadway last season.
My favorite songs were Catch Me I’m Falling, I’m Alive, and the finale, Light. I did notice, however, that much of this score is reprises (5 total in the second act). Jennifer Damiano definitely earner her TONY nomination, especially being only 17 or 18, she has a helluva talent. Alice Ripley absolutely kills it though. I’ve been a fan of hers since back in the days of The Rocky Horror Show (2000 revival) and this definitely tests her acting and vocal chops (I should also mention that she also received a TONY nomination!). Michael Berry did a great job in the role of Dan, and I have a tiny crush on Adam Chanler-Berat, who plays Henry, the pothead who comes to Natalie’s side at the beginning of the show. The only person I missed from the Second Stage production? Asa Sommers as the doctor. I don’t know why, but I just missed his interpretation.
After the show, we made our way to the stage door and waited inside for my friend Damien, who is the percussionist for the show. I had texted him earlier and told him I was seeing the show [finally] and he told me he’d put me on the list. We waited alongside Lou Christy, a 1950’s pop star, whom my mother recognized, and was waiting for Alice Ripley. A few minutes later, Damien came out, and after introductions, he took us for a short tour of the stage; I love, love, love the set. We talked for a while, and he asked if I liked the show better (he knew I had reservations since the Second Stage production) and I said yes, I did, very much. After taking a picture, I thanked him and we headed off to kill time before my dad and brother got out of Star Wars.
After stopping by the Nederlander Theatre, we cut through the Hilton Hotel and went to Coldstone and had a small cheesecake/chocolate ice cream with caramel and peanut butter cups in it. YUM! Around 6:20, they got out of the movie, my dad stated, "It was AWESOME!!” and we walked to the car and eventually made our way to my apartment where they dropped me off. All in all, an awesome day 🙂
So, definitely check out Next to Normal if you get a chance, playing at The Booth Theatre on 45th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue. There is a general rush that goes on sale two hours before each performance, 2 tickets per person at $25.