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Next to Normal

4.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,020 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
"A brave and breathtaking musical."--The New York Times
Paperback, 112 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Theatre Communications Group (first published May 12th 2009)
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Angels in America by Tony KushnerAugust by Tracy LettsArcadia by Tom StoppardThe Pillowman by Martin McDonaghThe History Boys by Alan Bennett
Best Plays Since 1990
15th out of 133 books — 96 voters
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee WilliamsOur Town by Thornton WilderDeath of a Salesman by Arthur MillerCat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee WilliamsLong Day's Journey Into Night by Eugene O'Neill
Pulitzer Prize for Drama
51st out of 80 books — 32 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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The Shayne-Train
Jun 23, 2016 The Shayne-Train rated it really liked it
Yet another instance of: "Hey, I'm-a be in this musical. I better read this musical."

Not my normal fare, as I prefer musical theatre that has singing zombies or cross-dressing murderous cooks, but I did enjoy it. The story of a family trying to cope with the mother's delusional bi-polar disorder stemming from an immense loss.

I get to the dual roles of the Doctors. Which means I get to electrify the main character's brain. So I got that goin' for me...which is nice.

Jan 21, 2011 Sean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, theatre
"next to normal" by Brian Yorkey (Music by Tom Kitt) is one of the most emotionally vivid pieces of theater I've read. The winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, "next to normal" is a work of honest, raw feelings and emotions carried forward by a dri...ving rock score and well-drawn, three-dimensional characters. The play centers around a suburban family (father, mothers, son, daughter) dealing with the mother's depression and bipolar disorder. The mother is vivacious and damaged, the fath ...more
Sep 28, 2013 Iris rated it it was amazing
Prepare for a long review, folks.

This play is utterly...staggering. Mind-boggling. AMAZING. It's honestly quite hard for me to put into words, but I'll try. The characters in this are so complex it's hard to articulate. We'll start with the main character: Diana Goodman.

Diana "Di" Goodman is a loving wife and mother, trying to do the best for her family. She is utterly miserable, bored with her husband and her daughter who "though a genius, is a freak." Her son is a charming "little shit" who s
Oct 21, 2014 Emma rated it it was amazing
If there was an option to give more than five stars, this is the one thing that would need it.

I am a lover of all mediums of storytelling: film, television, books, musicals, plays, etc., and it is no exaggeration when I say that Next to Normal is my favorite fictional work of all time.

While reading the libretto does not give you the complete picture of this show's beauty and importance, it is a great way to dig textually deeper into the show and read into lines that might not seem as significa
Jul 23, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite musical so I really can't give it any less than 5 stars. It's so, so, so good and so important to me. I've seen it on tour, watched several bootlegs (shhhhh), and I listen to the cast recording all the time. But still, there were many moments of revelation for me in the actual text of the script. I loved reading this so much and would highly recommend other fans of the show to do so as well.

If you don't know anything about this musical, I definitely still recommend reading t
Feb 03, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing musical and even if you've seen it, I really recommend reading it because some of the stage directions are rather funny.
Julia Curtis
May 22, 2013 Julia Curtis rated it it was amazing
Sometimes there are scripts that don't do very well just reading because... well seeing it is better. I find that "Next to Normal" is one of those wonderful exceptions. It's heart-wrenching, funny, thrilling, and just all around beautiful. And I didn't need to see it. The script of "Spring Awakening" had me constantly searching YouTube so that I could see the scene and read along with it. "Next to Normal" did not require that. It made my emotions swing up and down without having to see one actor ...more
Matthew Funke
Jul 01, 2016 Matthew Funke rated it really liked it
Saw the bootleg... I was. Stunned
Feb 04, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Incredible music, narrative, and going somewhere that no other musical would touch. All in all, Next to Normal has to be one of the best musicals I've heard and read in years. The raw emotion jumps off the page as the story of this family struggling with mental illness develops, and I know that the characters here will stay with me for a long time because their difficulties are not the typical musical fare and the realism exhibited is quite strong. I especially enjoyed the ending, because I don' ...more
Oct 12, 2010 Sean rated it it was amazing
I love getting to really dig into the text of the show and find new ways to see this story. The characters are heartbreaking and breathtakingly real, and the story touches every emotional chord it possibly can. Ben Brantley was right, "This is a feel-everything musical".
Maureen Keever
Aug 07, 2014 Maureen Keever rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ready to see the play

Ready to see the play

I listened to the soundtrack while reading the play. I am going to see the play this month and looking forward to it. Easy read and emotional story.
Oct 25, 2014 Julia rated it really liked it
Great songs and ideas, but I was bothered by some of the ways it dealt with bipolar disorder, ie not emphasizing Diana's pain, only what she caused those around her. Losing all your memories and hurting your family is going to be very painful. And sometimes Diana's mental illness and hallucinations were used for comic relief which felt wrong. Also therapy and medication was portrayed as only harmful which can be true in some cases but I feel like the overall message about medication and therapy ...more
Michael Cook
Jul 11, 2014 Michael Cook rated it it was amazing
Next to Normal, the award winning script of the Broadway musical of the same name, is perhaps one of the most extraordinary scripts I’ve ever read. When it comes to reading the scripts of musicals, a lot of the time some of the emotion is lost by just seeing the words on the page. That is not the case with Next to Normal. Just reading the words, with no help from the soundtrack or anything else, still moves me to tears.

The story is a poignant one about a mother with bipolar disorder, struggling
Guitar Chick
Feb 28, 2014 Guitar Chick rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the best scripts to just read. I have seen bootlegs of the Broadway show, so it may help that I have faces and music to put with the words, but this is such a great story by itself, I don't think it matters much.
I'm not a huge fan of Yorkey's other work (and the crazier Rent fans might be contributors to this problem), but this is probably my favorite book for a musical. The characters don't need a whole lot of exposition to understand their motivations, and why they are the way th
Jul 18, 2014 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
After years of listening to the music but never having gotten to experience the show, it seemed time to rectify the situation.

Best part of all was Anthony Rapp's introduction: "there's something about the quintessentially American art form known as musical theater that can either drive me crazy or melt my heart. When writing musicals, it's easy to be clever, it's easy to be corny, it's easy to take the easy way out. It takes guts to get to the heart of the matter, to not flinch away from the pa
Craig Werner
Aug 07, 2015 Craig Werner rated it did not like it
Shelves: drama
Ridiculous choice for a Pulitzer in drama. Maybe fourth honorable mention for a Tony.

Okay, I'm being snarky, and I'm not a musical fan, so to say the least I'm not in the target audience. The music struck me as bombastic, which isn't unusual for Broadway, and to be fair there are a couple of B minus kinds of rock show numbers.

But the plot, characters, and, especially, theme, pissed me off. It takes on a set of serious subjects--grief, suicide--and reduces them to sentimental glop.

At least I didn
Sylvia Bloom
The best musical since "RENT."
Jun 21, 2015 Heather rated it really liked it
The most realistic fictional portrayal of bipolar disorder I have ever read. I only wish I'd had the chance to see it on Broadway.

The character's point of view, even though it is faulty since it takes place as she is unstable, is pitch perfect. The writers move between moments of instability and calmness deftly. The play does a great job of portraying the reality of the illness, it's effect on a family and the person with the illness, and of the stigma. The plot and characters never feels forced
Feb 01, 2013 Neil rated it really liked it
This is a musical that reads well on paper, even without the great music, and packs some real emotional impact. It gets deeply into its subject matter of a woman's mania and schizophrenia and the effect that mental illness has on her relationships, at least as deeply as it can in the length of a musical.

A couple of minor complaints keep me from giving it the fifth star: First, the ending is a bit vague. The last song makes it unclear to me whether she is going to hold to the decisions she made a
Jul 10, 2016 Courtney rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I absolutely LOVE this as a musical, and there is not much more in the book that isn't present in the songs. The only reason this isn't a 5 is because so much of what makes the musical work is the music itself, so unless you are singing along in your head while reading, it misses a certain something.
I definitely recommend listening to the whole soundtrack (and definitely watch the Tony performance) if you haven't heard of this show before.
Joshua Boiser
Jun 20, 2014 Joshua Boiser rated it it was amazing
This libretto is one of those rare musical scripts that are actually better read than seen on stage as a broadway production. The playwright grasps his every word and plays with it artistically, but still, the sense of the story is still retained. The issue of the family made it more available to a larger scope of audience, which was both effective as a libretto and a musical, since it equals to a larger cover of commerciality. The story tugs at your heart, and it doesn't leave you without a den ...more
Jessica Kate
Mar 22, 2014 Jessica Kate rated it it was amazing
Such an amazing work! I love that musical theatre is exploring issues like mental health.

I've seen the show in Los Angeles (with Alice Ripley) and by a theatre company here in Brisbane. So many things to discover within this touching story about a family that is just trying to cope.

Another fantastic female musical theatre character in Diana.. One I hope that I have the fortune to play in the years to come.
Erika Ortiz
Oct 27, 2013 Erika Ortiz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
The book of Next to Normal is the script and lyrics to a very honest, accurate, and occasionally harsh show- but harshness is unavoidable if one wants to remain truthful, and is found in the very basis of the subject matter. Anyone that is, is related to, or knows of someone dealing with mental illness can find solace in this play. While the only cheer (other than the last two or three pages) is a stretch of sardonic and often pessimistic wit, readers will achieve more cathartic feelings in the ...more
Michelle Stokes
I loved this!! I read it and listened to the music at the same time. The music is fantastic. Mental illness is a subject I feel is hardly portrayed in a honest way. This Pulitzer Prize winning play deals with it honestly and in a way that will touch your heart! I hope it goes back on Broadway one day so I can see it live!
Reading Challenge Category: A play
May 31, 2014 Jackson rated it it was amazing
Such a powerful look at what the loss of a child can do to a family. Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt have created a script that never allows the audience be comfortable with the progression of the story and never allows the audience to trust what is happening. Is it really happening? Or are we just seeing another psychotic vision of a depressed parent?
Ellie Christene
May 19, 2015 Ellie Christene rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves theatre, teenage actors, people who suffer with mental illness
Recommended to Ellie by: Emily, Mrs. Peltz
Shelves: favorites, plays
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 15, 2013 Samantha rated it really liked it
This play follows the lives of Diana, Dan, Natalie, and Gabe as Diana, the mother of the family, spirals deeper into her depression because she can’t let go of her son, Gabe, who died when he was just an infant. Gabe returns throughout the play to plague Diana’s mind. Meanwhile, Natalie is the forgotten second child and starts to stray because she can’t achieve her perfectionist state. Dan is trying to hold the family together, but he eventually loses his mind as well.

I love plays, and this one
Jenny Renninger
May 10, 2011 Jenny Renninger rated it it was amazing
Let me begin by saying that I have not seen Next to Normal on broadway. However it was through searching for music on YouTube that dealt with depression I came across this story. Next to Normal is such a touching piece of literature filled with raw emotion that I could not put down this book. The story revolves around a mother dealing with bi-polar depression and the effects of her condition on her family. I also will say that I enjoyed reading this book because of the the rises and falls depict ...more
Araceli Aguilar
Feb 12, 2014 Araceli Aguilar rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite shows. A musical that has a great dramatic story, still manages to have moments for laughter, and a sensitivity to mental illness and the families that cope with it. Also, I saw the original Broadway production and it was amazing!
Dec 28, 2014 Nikkiac rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: musical theatre fans, anyone with mental illness, family and friends of anyone with mental illness
Recommended to Nikkiac by: amazon
I've only listened to the cd a few times and never seen the show. I did enjoy reading the book, and highlighted several lines and lyrics I related to and/or found inspiring. Obviously though, with the subject matter, it was kind of depressing, and while I do feel it's great and important to be explored, it wouldn't be the most uplifting evening out, which is what I look for personally at this stage. Maybe it's because I suffered mental illness for years myself, I'm kind of sick of hearing about ...more
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