Reviews: Next To Normal

Great Show, bad Lead

I really enjoyed the show, especially the technical aspects of it. The set and music and blocking were all phenomenal. I saw the June 25h matinee at the Kimmel Center in Philly. Emma Hunton was brilliant as Natalie, really pulling me into the character and making me believe her story. The other actors were also great, Gabe walked a fine line between an emotionally torn person and a vengeful villain. Alice Ripley as Diana however, is to be missed. Her acting was good, but her voice! Every time she had a song I would cringe in the anticipation of hearing her. She was constantly flat on almost everything and she had this sort of ululating/wobbling/warbling thing during her long notes where it could give you a headache. Unfortunately, she is the main character with the most stage and song time. Usually this is where I would say "Do not let this discourage you form it though" however, it is difficult for me to say that. Go see it as it is a great musical (more like opera with about only 2 dozen lines of dialogue, the rest sung) that showcases a difficult subject. Emma Hunton was sublime and I would love to go see her in future works of hers. Go prepared to hear a horrible singer however, and maybe if you set your expectations for Alice Ripley low enough, you won't be upset with the show.