Reviews are coming in for the London premiere of Broadway musical Next To Normal at the Donmar Warehouse.
Directed by outgoing Donmar artistic director Michael Longhurst, Next To Normal stars Grammy Award nominee Caissie Levy as Diana, with Olivier Award winner and Tony Award nominee Jamie Parker as Dan, Hamilton star Trevor Dion Nicholas as Dr Madden/Dr Fine, Jack Ofrecio as Henry, Jack Wolfe as Gabe, and Olivier Award winner and BAFTA nominee Eleanor Worthington-Cox as Natalie.
The supporting cast include Joshua Gannon as cover Gabe/Henry, Carolyn Maitland as cover Diana, Ben Morris as cover Dan/Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine and Lucy Munden as cover Natalie.
This Pulitzer Prize winning show is written by two-time Tony Award winner Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics).
The show’s creative team also includes Musical Supervisor Nigel Lilley; Designer Chloe Lamford; Lighting Designer Lee Curran; Sound Designer Tony Gayle; Movement Director Ann Yee; Musical Director Nick Barstow; and Casting Director Anna Cooper CDG.
Next to Normal is playing at the Donmar Warehouse to 7 October 2023.
Next to Normal reviews
"Cassie Levy is terrific"
"Wonderfully sung and staged, this show detailing the effects of grief and mental illness on an ordinary American family comes from the “relentless” school of Broadway musical."
"More than 37 rock numbers, ballads and reprises are packed into two hours, all of them catchily scored by Tom Kitt and given witty lyrics by Brian Yorkey. And all are given the full-throated, eyes-aloft, maximum-emotion treatment."
"Longhurst’s production powers forward, on the sort of kitchen set (by Chloe Lamford) that once looked desirable but now looks bog-standard."
"Parker’s Dan is a model of patient adoration, his fragile high notes when singing an expression of his sensitivity. (Although as Diana says, he is also boring). As gifted musician Natalie, Worthington-Cox unleashes a splendid singing voice but the script and score keep her in a state of twitchy, needy resentment, character-wise."
"The Donmar could have been designed for this domestic chamber musical. The final song, Light, brings the house down. I’m never sure if Broadway’s impassioned style of performance will work in London. This time, it does."
"A blistering musical portrayal of mental illness"
"The Pulitzer Prize winning musical finally arrives in London – and it’s worth the wait"
" It makes for a beautiful but uncompromising evening, as it unflinchingly recounts the destructive impact of mental illness on one suburban family."
"Michael Longhurst’s sensitive and intelligent production of this delicate chamber piece matches the six-strong cast with a six-piece band"
"Levy is in magisterial form as she explores every angle of her turbulent and fugitive emotions, detailing them with unwavering musical power."
"Next to Normal is a musical about bipolar disorder – and it’s brilliant"
"An improbable but huge hit on Broadway, Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt’s gut-wrenching, blackly comic production is at last over here"
"It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that Michael Longhurst’s highly anticipated revival at the Donmar has already sold out – luckily, this moving and gut-wrenching production is mostly worthy of that hype."
"[Levy's] voice is wondrous and she packs a punch with her raw rendition of I Miss the Mountains, lamenting the emotional numbness afforded by medication."
"Kitt and Yorkey’s musical combines a sensitive exploration of the issue with a wonderful score – even if it does feel slightly overlong at 37 songs. Nevertheless, it would certainly be a shame – and a surprise – if this run didn’t end up being extended past October."
"Truthful, affecting moments"
"Committed performances help to ground this UK premiere of Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s flawed but affecting mental health musical"
"This long-expected UK premiere handles the musical’s heavy content with a lightness of touch that sometimes makes the show feel entirely sanitised."
"Although the show builds to a hopeful conclusion, Kitt’s music eloquently captures all the pain, weariness and fleeting moments of hope Diana experiences on her long road to recovery."
"A musical about mental health that feels too neat and tidy"
"This Donmar revival of a Broadway smash about a suburban mother struggling with uncontrollable moods has a star turn from Caissie Levy, but fails to capture the messiness of its subject"
"Powered by huge, messy emotions and gorgeously, earnestly delivered ballads, Next to Normal is a hit rock musical that landed three Tony Awards for its 2009 Broadway run; now comes an intimate revival at the Donmar."
"Levy is wonderful in this central role: it’s worth a trip to the Donmar’s small space purely to see her sing at the kind of close quarters you wouldn’t get on Broadway, filling each note with a yearning and intensity"
"Diana’s episodes have a sanitised, feminised fairytale dreaminess to them that doesn’t capture the weirdness and messiness of actual mental illness, while psychiatric interventions are quietly dismissed as either dangerous or futile."
"Michael Longhurst’s direction adds to that unhelpfully wipe-clean feel."
"Farce and tragedy in a slick Broadway import"
"... a sleek production from the Donmar’s outgoing artistic director, Michael Longhurst."
"Caissie Levy (the original Elsa in the Frozen musical) gets to the heart of a fragile woman weighed down with grief and weighing the pros and cons of medication."
"All the same, a fine cast can’t compensate for the repetitive storyline and music."
"Too much feels calculated and workshopped in a venture that is occasionally as bland as Diana’s immaculate home"
"Fizzing musical about mental illness"
"The performances are superb in this tale of a family dealing with bipolar disorder but the storyline is thin"
"Brian Yorkey’s book and lyrics prove that a portrait of a chronic mental illness doesn’t have to be grim. There is plenty of verve and momentum in a first half that fizzes with humour, from a sexy jazz number about Diana’s pill regimen to the patter song in which her well-intentioned, desperate husband (Jamie Parker) tries to convince himself that all will be well."
"While the musical raises questions about treatment for mental illness and about the impact and legacy of Diana’s condition on her family, it delivers far less narratively. The thinness of the secondary plot, in which the daughter, Natalie, self-medicates to cope with what is happening at home, is at least strengthened by a superb performance from Eleanor Worthington-Cox, while Jack Wolfe’s impassioned vocals as her brother, Gabe, light up the moments of rock opera that are the closest Tom Kitt’s music comes to a unifying theme."
"What will stay with you is less a story and more a sense of empathy for the characters, struggling to survive in a world where “everything is perfect and nothing is real”.
"This cult US musical has some dodgy views on mental health, but this is a sensational UK premiere"
"... this UK debut for Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s Pulitzer winner has been a long time coming. And outgoing Donmar Warehouse boss Michael Longhurst matches the pent-up demand with a sensational production – even if I’m doubtful whether the musical itself lives up to the hype."
"In particular, it’s a privilege to see Broadway star Caissie Levy in the lead part of bipolar mum/mom Diana... In a very real sense she is the show: it’s her total belief in Diana that keeps the whole thing soaring in spite of some very questionable writing."
"Still, as a musical about mental illness it feels… lacking if you actually take a moment to consider what’s going on, something the full-tilt performances are admittedly good at distracting you from."
"Clearly I am in a more skeptical camp: I’d trade 50 percent of the passion for ten percent more depth. But there’s no denying the fact that as a boutique musical theatre experience, this is pretty special. As art, it’s problematic; as entertainment, it’s first-rate."