The only musical on the Purdue Theatre Department’s slate this year lives up to its suggestive name by shedding light on a societal subject that is often left in the dark.
In Next to Normal, audiences are introduced to The Goodman family. Though the suburban family may be seemingly average on the surface, mother and wife Diana has been battling her worsening bipolar disorder for nearly two decades. The family struggles to cope with her mental illness, as it is taking a toll on her relationships with her husband and children.
Like many musicals, Next to Normal has been featured on Broadway, winning multiple Tony Awards as a result. However, unlike most musicals, Next to Normal places a bright spotlight on mental illness and focuses primarily on the ways in which families are emotionally impacted by mental disorders.
Purdue Theatre graduate student Carly Christensen, who plays Diana, says she hopes some audience members are able to relate to the character’s struggles.
“That moment of validation, I think, is very important for people, especially those who are living with mental illness or living through the loss of a child or the loss of anyone, and so I hope that is really identifies with someone,” Christensen says.
Christensen believes Next to Normal is a musical that may change the way society views musicals, and says that she hopes audiences will see the value of this production.
“I also hope that people will come and see this musical and realize that art doesn’t have to be tied up in a neat little bow, and that musicals don’t have to be, maybe, what they used to be.”
The cast dedicated six Friday evenings to learning the spirited rock music that envelops the production.
Opening night for Next to Normal is November 9th at 7:30, and the final show will be November 18th at 2:30. A full schedule of performances can be found here.