Next To Normal……Far From It

Posted: May 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
Currently the Melbourne Theatre Company is presenting an award-winning dramatic rock musical “Next To Normal” at the Playhouse (Arts Centre) in Melbourne. STALKERmedia was lucky enough to be able to attend the show last week, contrary to the tittle of the musical the performance from start to finish was far from normal it was emotionally breathtaking.
Next To Normal was written by American playwright and theatre director Brian Yorkey  and music by American composer, conductor, orchestrator and musician Tom Kitt,  The broadway production was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and 3 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Sound Design. The Melbourne Theatre Company has defiantly  done this new age musical justice.
The show stopping musical surrounds Diana Goodman (Kate Kendall) a Mother who is struggling with worsening bipolar disorder and the effects that are continually getting in the way of a normal suburban life. Diana and her troubles are only the start of what ends up being an emotional rollercoaster ride that sucks you in on multiple levels with each character.
A young and talented cast play out  the rest of the characters which you are bound to relate to in different ways during the show, the family is made up of Dan Goodman (Matt Hetherington) the father who simply wants to be their for his family whilst helping his wife in her stages of troubles, Natalie Goodman(Christy Sullivan) the daughter who is stuck in her own world  not knowing what to do and is a bit of a freak, Gabe Goodman (Gareth Keegan) is very much a mummy’s boy and in ways can do no wrong and joining the families story along the way is Dr Madden(Bert LaBonte) and Henry(Benjamin Hoetjes).
The show is mostly sung and is full of emotion you can guarantee that you will leave the theatre not only wanting to see it again but with the feeling of connection with a character or sceneario that was played out during the show.
The creative  team made up of the following  –
Director – Bean Bryant
Musical Director – Mathew Frank
Choreographer – Andrew Hallisworth
Set Designer – Richard Roberts
all did a fantastic job of putting the whole show together, one standout for me was the set which had things coming on and off stage – upstage, downstage, left, right and on multiple levels gave that something extra to the show.
In regards to musical numbers to watch out for leaving me absolutely breathless – opening number “Just Another Day” was a perfect start to the show really setting the benchmark for what was to come, “I Miss The Mountains” was another stand out sung  by Diana (Kate Kendall) and is a beautifully inspiration song and was very well done by Kate Kendall and also “Superboy and the Invisible Girl” a song between Natalie(Christy Sullivan), Diana(Kate Kendall) and Gabe(Gareth Keegan) will also leave you with a tear two along with the finale by the whole cast “Light” which left most of the audience on their feet in applause !
In regards to stand out performances it would had to have been Gareth Keegan in his role of Gabe his duets with the other cast members and his jaw dropping solos gave me goosebumps and he played the role perfectly. However the star in my eyes and the person that stole the show would have to be by a mile Benjamin Hoetjes in the role of Henry, fresh talent right out of Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts he left me absolutely lost for words and taken back by his talent each time he stepped on the stage and giving the performance of the night in “Perfect For You” not only with his acting skills but his singing and committment to the role of Henry.
The whole performance is an absolute standout and a must see. If you have not already seen it then you MUST MUST grab a group of friends and go along.On  the 4th of June at the Playhouse at the Arts Centre the show will be closing, for tickets and more information about this show and the Melbourne Theatre Company –
Make sure you don’t miss out on this amazing show STALKERmedia has already got tickets to go see it again and we hope to see you there. Also stay tuned for our feature on the Melbourne Theatre Company and Profile story on Benjamin Hoetjes.



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