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Next to Normal

4.43 of 5 stars 4.43  ·  rating details  ·  1,269 ratings  ·  58 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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Community Reviews

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"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
Julia Curtis
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
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...more
Feb 04, 2014 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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".
Michael Cook
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...more
Guitar Chick
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Joshua Boiser
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
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
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
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?
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...more
Jenny Renninger
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
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!
Maureen Keever
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.
M. Donner
I mark this play as a turning point in what has been many years self-conflicted thoughts on the topic of mental illness. I saw this play as it was intended, in a live performance, and truly, there was not a single dry eye in the house. I found myself trying to leave the theatre with red eyes, past this bulkier, over-six-foot man to discover his eyes were just as blotchy. It was a strange moment, and after scanning each other, we both laughed.

Volatile as it is compassionate towards the truth it...more
An important musical that dares to tackle mature topics using relatable characters and a powerful, rock-driven score.

Four stars because I have yet to see it performed on stage.

Well this was intensely emotional. It helps if you listen to soundtrack while you read along. Now I just need to wait for the show to come to town.
Produced by Artists Repertory Theater in Portland Or 4/24-6/3/2012

So what is it that defines “crazy” anyway?
Called a groundbreaking, powerhouse rock musical, Next to Normal, is a heart-swelling, searingly painful dissection of a mother’s mental illness and her suburban family trying to hold it all together. This multiple award-winning smash hit is a brave, powerfully emotional musical that takes on new territory with mix of raw energy and grace. “Like all good musicals, it breaks your heart wit...more
excellent, insightful musical. very well done at La Mirada.
Derrick Clements
Next to Normal is a powerful piece of drama that is so grounded in sincere emotion and real relationships. That everyone can feel so human in a rock musical is a great achievement of itself. I read the book with my iPod ready to play the track that I came to in my reading, playing out the piece in my mind. Then I read the book aloud and listened in the same way with my girlfriend. I would love to see this performed live, and will get to this fall as it is being done in Salt Lake (2011). Very exc...more
I have never actually seen this musical, but I have listened to the soundtrack over and over. It is just too perfect. I decided to purchase the script because I wanted to know the plot line so that I could justify Next to Normal's being my favorite musical. And let me tell you, I absolutely love this script. It didn't win a Pulitzer Prize for nothing. It is haunting, yet so human. The characters are beautifully crafted. I would definitely recommend this for theatre lovers and non-theatre lovers...more
for a small cast of characters, this play discusses so many issues deeply and realistically (despite the nature of the problem). smooth and easy read and only of my favorite musicals.
Cassandra Noelle
It's no wonder why this musical won the 2009 Tony award for best score and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama. This book, which contains the entire libretto, reveals subtleties from the script that draw emphasis to the brilliant use of themes, metaphors, and foreshadowing that it contains. Disclaimer/Warning: The material covers mature themes and contains profanity and numerous uses of unfavorable language. Discretion is advised.
One of the best productions I have ever seen, music, set and story are amazing. I had no idea what the play was about when we went. Then I heard people talking about it being depressing in the lobby. Oh no, I thought! but i loved it. it caught you up and as it twisted and turned you were right there with them. I highly recommend this play!
This is one of those rare occasions where when you read a musical, it still works without the music. Next to Normal is a wonderful read. Wonderful in a sense that you get very wrapped up in every character and you really get into the story. I'm not surprised that this won the Pulitzer.
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Your Thoughts 2 7 Jan 15, 2013 02:27PM  
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Next To Normal Vocal Selections An Original Musical Piano/Vocal If/Then - A New Musical: Vocal Line with Piano Accompaniment

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