Characters: Next To Normal
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The Goodman Family
Played by Alice Ripley
"So my son's a little shit, my husband's boring, and my daughter, though a genius, is a freak."
- Annoying Patient: And yet, Dr Madden begs her to stick at the treatment.
- Badass Normal
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: It seems that only Diana is really able to do this, but Alice Ripley as Diana was infamous for this.
- Broken Bird
- Feel No Pain: Diana has many complaints that her medication makes her suffer new problems each time it is altered, such as weight gain, sweating for no reason, constipation and nausea. However, after a while she claims "I don't feel like myself...I mean, I don't feel anything."
- Averted when she throws away her medication in "I Miss The Mountains" because she misses her younger self, who felt pain, depression, happiness, sadness and even mania; but at least she felt.
- Give Him a Normal Life:Diana: [To Natalie] We tried to give you a normal life. (laughs) I realize now I have no clue what that is.
- He's Back: When Gabe returns at the end of "Why Stay?/A Promise" behind Dan when Diana and Dan are about to embrace. Diana issues an "oh no" and turns Dan to face the (presumably) empty space where Gabe is, to which Dan yells a long "GODDAMMITTTT!"
- "I Want" Song: "I Miss the Mountains"
- Missing Mom: As Natalie sings towards the end of the show "It's so lovely that you're sharing, no really; I'm all ears. But where has all this caring been for sixteen years?"
- No Medication for Me
- Sanity Slippage Song: Could be seen as many for Diana.
- Stepford Smiler
- Too Much Information: Does this to Natalie at the very beginning of the show so it seems that they are leading normal lives.Diana: Honey, you need to slow down. Take some time for yourself. I'm going to have sex with your father!Natalie: Great, thanks, I'm so glad I know that.
Played by J. Robert Spencer
"I know I have to help her, but hell if I know how. And all the times that I've been told the way her illness goes, the truth of it is no one really knows."
- Bumbling Dad: Natalie wants him to be "a typical parent and lie" that everything with Diana will be OK.
- The Caretaker
- Dogged Nice Guy
- I Just Want to Be Normal
- Men Don't Cry: Averted. Dan hides his emotions from his family until it eventually tears them apart, until his wife leaves him and Natalie finds him sobbing alone in the dark and simply replies that "there will be light." Dan eventually agrees to see a therapist recommended by Dr Madden, after a long time of bottling up his emotions.
- Only Sane Man: Well, there's the bipolar wife, the angsty teenage daughter, the dead-ghost son, the daughter's stoner boyfriend and the terrifying therapist. And then there's Dan.
- While he's certainly more stable than the others, Dan is more troubled than he appears at first; a lot of his storyline throughout the musical involves him being forced to come to terms with his hopelessness about his wife's condition and his denial about the loss of his son.
- Stepford Smiler
Gabriel "Gabe" Goodman
Played by Aaron Tveit
"I'm old as time and forever young, I am every song that will stay unsung. I'll find you, remind you..."
- Dead All Along
- Even Evil Has Standards: Many think of Gabe as a vicious and aggressive spirit/memory trying to spite his family into remembering him, but he stops following his mother for once when she leaves his father to help him.
- One could argue that he was staying for his father for his whole appearance during the second act. He does reappear to Diana which tells us her treatment failed, but most of the song he sings during that appearance is directed at Dan, not Diana. And in his subsequent appearance, he is solely there for Dan.
- Fanservice: During "I'm Alive", his rather... vigorous use of the tiered set definitely verges on pole dancing.
- Also, he performs his solo in "Just Another Day" in his boxers.
- Ironic Birthday: His birthday, when the delusional Diana bakes Gabe a cake, is when the audience explicitly finds out, from Dan, that "he's been dead sixteen years."
- Meaningful Name: Gabriel, perhaps as in the angel who appeared to Mary in The Bible and told her she was pregnant.
- Mr. Fanservice
- Tenor Boy: An exception: he is a tenor, but is actually the villain for varying degrees of villainy.
Played by Jennifer Damiano
"And you graduate early, you're gone as of May! And there's nothing your paranoid parents say."
- Age-Appropriate Angst
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: But mainly as a Jerkass Fašade for dealing with her family problems.
- Break the Cutie
- Dawson Casting: Averted. Natalie is stated to be sixteen, yet was played by Jennifer Damiano (who was still in high school) originally.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life:Natalie: And you play 'til it's perfect, you play 'til you ache. You play 'til the strings or your fingernails break! So you'll rock that recital and get into Yale, so you won't feel so sick, and you won't look so pale.
- Embarrassing Old Photo: In "Better Than Before".
- Freudian Excuse: She's not evil, just rather sarcastic and angry. But she gets better, and considering how her life was before and during most of the show, it's amazing she hasn't snapped (well, more than she already has).
- I Just Want to Be Loved
- Innocence Lost: And she resents her parents for it.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Oblivious to Love:Henry: Our planet is poisoned, the oceans, the air. Around and beneath and above you.Natalie: Um, Henry, that's true and I totally care.Henry: I'm trying to tell you— I love you.Natalie: WHAT?!
- Power of Love: How Natalie helps the family come to terms with Diana's leaving at the end of the show, especially because of Henry, who is "like, number three on [her] list of problems" but her "favorite problem."
- Replacement Goldfish: Her mother admits to having her to replace her brother, who died in infancy.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man
- Stepford Snarker / Stepford Smiler: "Everything's great! Why wouldn't it be great! It's great."
- Teens Are Monsters: Averted eventually. Natalie is just very, very frustrated at her parents.
- The Un Favourite: To a brother that's dead. Ouch.
- What the Hell, Dad?: When Dan smashes Diana's music box when he will not name Gabe to Diana.
Played by Adam Chanler-Berat
"I might be lazy, a loner, a bit of a stoner... it's true."
- Completely Missing the Point:Henry: The thing about classical is it's so rigid and structured, there's no room for improvisation. You have to play the notes on the page.Natalie: Yeah, what did Mozart know anyway? He should've just smoked a bowl and jammed on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.Henry: ...Yeah, let's do that!
- Dogged Nice Guy
- I Take Offense to That Last OneNatalie: "Oh, you're one of those pretentious stoner types."Henry: "That's totally unfair! ... I'm not pretentious."
- Nice Guy: Completely supportive and loving of Natalie.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Him being high is a Running Gag, and used to loosen the seriousness of Natalie starting to take her mother's drugs in "I'm Alive" until "Wish I Were Here".
- Stoners Are Funny: See Plucky Comic Relief.
- The Stoner
- Na´ve Newcomer
Dr. Fine/Dr. Madden
Played by Louis Hobson
"Oh, and one last thing! Use may be fatal..."
- Acting for Two
- Dr. Feelgood
- Meaningful Name: A therapist called Dr Madden? Yikes.
- Only Sane Man
- Rock Star Song: Parodied by Diana's hallucinations about Doctor Madden in "My Psychopharmacologist and I", and in Madden's cut song "Feeling Electric."
- Unfazed Everyman: Granted, he's a psychologist, so he's probably seen worse.