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  • BW Baldwin Wallace College

A NEXT TO NORMAL BIRTHDAY

Thursday March 28th was my mom's birthday, and also the final day of class before the four day Easter weekend.  To celebrate, my mom and grandmother picked me up at school and we went to dinner at “Jammy Buggars” in Lakewood, followed by seeing, BW's much anticipated, Next To Normal, a collaboration with Beck Center For The Arts.  I had been waiting to see my friends/classmates and my professor, Scott Plate, with much anticipation and expectation, as they have already received phenomenal reviews.  The show did indeed live up to the hype.  I was blown away by the realness of the cast which depicts a modern day dysfunctional family.  The set was simple, hundreds of empty pill bottles made the windows and there was a red roof.

Next to Normal  is basically about Diana Goodman, a suburban housewife, and her struggles through life as she battles mental demons in the form of bipolar disorder coupled with hallucinations that stem from a trauma sixteen years earlier.  Her husband Dan fights to keep her mind and his family stable but that fight becomes increasingly problematic as Diana decides to stop taking the pills given to her by her doctor.  After several failed attempts to stem the tide by means of talk therapy with a different doctor, she eventually falls into an even darker place and attempts suicide.  At the suggestion of her new doctor, Diana is convinced by her husband to submit to electroconvulsive therapy that causes her to have short-term amnesia.  Throughout her struggles, Diana’s relationship with her daughter, Natalie, becomes strained because Natalie feels invisible in the eyes of her mother, who prefers the superhero-like memory she has created of her son.  The premise is heartbreaking enough, without sitting front row in a small black box theatre and watching people who you know so well portraying such raw material.  

Chris McCarrell, my friend, who is a senior has quite a career ahead of him.  He was completely enthralling from the second he walked on the stage.  My freshman friends Ellis and Caroline were also fantastic in the roles of Henry and Natalie.  My mom and I sobbed from beginning to end at the beautiful performance, as we expected to, as N2N one of our favorites.  This show is so good.  I hope everyone gets a chance to see it.  When the musical was over and I had dried my tears and congratulated my friends on their wonderful performances,  I rode the hour + home with my mom and grandmother and we gorged ourselves with delicious midnight birthday cake.   Next To Normal  is on stage Thursday-Sunday until April 21st.  Read this outstanding review from the Plain Dealer.