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Next To Normal

Music By Tom Kitt

Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey

Direction by Michael Horn

Starring Leesa Halstead, Michael Gunn, and Wyatt Glover

G.O.A.T. presenting at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Orlando FL</strong>

Nurture or nature, it doesn’t really matter when your brain isn’t hooking up right. Diana (Halstead) lost a child at 18 months, and now he haunts her every waking and sleeping moment. Her husband Dan (Glover) like the sex, but the sandwich throwing fits and general hallucinations are bringing him down. They try increasingly dangerous doses of psycholeptics until Diana tires of feeling like a zucchini casserole, flushes the drugs, freaks out, and now its Big Nurse time – Hello, Electroshock! She says “goodbye” to the bad memories but they leave a hole so large she has to leave Dan. And it’s a musical!

A musical, but not a terrible tuneful musical. Some songs stand out, more from the superb technical skills of the singers than the ear of the writers Under the direction of Michael Horn Ms Halstead gets the really good tunes – “I Miss the Mountains” and “I Didn’t See This Movie” Her invisible son is the exceptionally tall Michael Gunn and his magnum opus is “I’m Alive” and his second best is a duet with Mr. Glover in the noteworthy “You Don’t Know / I Am The One”. Mom has a daughter Natalie (Jaz Zepatos); she might escape the lunacy and stick with avant-garde Jazzbo Henry (Dan Middleditch). As subplots go, they make a cut couple, but the nurture/nature question might doom their relation even too though they walk of stage in the glow of a happy ending. Musicals love happy endings, and mental illness rarely provides happy endings even as Diana looks happy walking into the sunset. I’m skeptical but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

For more information on Greater Orlando Actor’s Theatre, please visit http://www.goatgroup.com/


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