Tonight: Next to Normal at 2econd Stage Theatre
First and only Alice Ripley was fierce. I loved seeing and hearing her live. She acted and sang the hell out of this mess of a musical with music by Tom Kitt and lyrics and book by Brian Yorkey. 2econd Stage tags it as "darkly funny and haunting new musical, one suburban household confronts its past and its future...[W]ith provocative lyrics and an electrifying score..." I didn't find it particularly dark, funny, haunting, provocative or electrifying. There was one song in the first act that was interesting - a vampy mix of Sondheim, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Dave Brubeck - unfortunately there is no scene or song list in the Playbill - but it never went uphill from there. The premise of the story itself is interesting - a family forgetting a tragic loss and slipping into depression - but overall, they just didn't pull it off. I couldn't wait to stop hearing the rest of the cast. On top of this, the theatre was so cold that most of the audience kept their winter coats on. At one point, Alice Ripley exhaled and I saw her breath in the air. I couldn't wait to go out into the freezing rain to warm up. The luckiest part of the evening, besides hearing Alice Ripley, who at times reminded me so much of Betty Buckley, was that my M10 bus arrived just as I crossed the street to the bus stop.
Chris at Everything I Know I Learned from Musicals gives a spot on review and I agree with him on every point. However, if you're planning on seeing this show, don't read his review because it's full of spoilers.