Thursday, October 4, 2012

Next to Normal

Diana's electro-shock treatments

The Arden Theatre, located at 40 N. 2nd Street, begins its 25th theatre season with the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal.   With producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen at the helm, the musical is scheduled to run on the F. Otto Haas stage through November 4.  Next to Normal is not easy to watch but neither is it easy to  let your eye roam off the stage.  The dialogue is gripping; the music is mesmerizing and the acting of the ensemble cast is riveting.  Kristine Fraelich, who portrays Diana, has a singing voice that is exquisitely pure, but when she is having an episode of mental illness, her voice takes on a wildly altered timbre. Rachel Camp, who portrays Diana’s long neglected teenage-aged daughter Natalie, also shows a wide breath of acting ability.  Her voice is strong and her portrayal of her plight brings the audience to tears.  Robert Hager demonstrates that he knows how to belt out a song as he appears and reappears onstage for solos and duets. Michael Doherty gives a convincing performance as Henry, a stable constant in Natalie’s life.  James Barry and Brian Hissong round out this excellent ensemble cast. Jorge Cousineau does an extraordinary job as scenic and video designer along with lighting designer Thom Weaver.  The special effects greatly enhance the staging of the production.  There is nothing normal about this play but next to normal is more than you could ask for.  For more information or tickets call 215-922-1122 or visit online at

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