There have been a few Broadway experiences, which I will keep with me my entire life. They are etched into my mind and heart and include:  my introduction to Broadway when I was a child, with A Chorus Line and Annie… my slight obsession with Les Miz which I have seen more times than I should admit to…and my more recent experience of seeing Alice Ripley’s gut wrenching performance in Next to Normal.

While I was biking today, I listened to the Next to Normal album again… and I felt the original emotions I experienced during the show, quickly rushing back… depositing me in that third row aisle seat as I sat, mouth agape, watching Ripley’s Diana hit the gamut of emotions…with perfect pitch. The songs are hauntingly good, the story is incredibly solid…especially considering that in most musicals, the music often overshadows story; however, in this rock opera, the lyrics are so startlingly clear and action orientated—the story moves along fluidly and flawlessly. There is humor mixed with heartbreaking tragedy and the songs are almost universally strong. If you haven’t seen the musical, take a minute to look at the Tony Award’s performance of “You Don’t Know and I am the One.” 

And Alice Ripley’s gift is anything but normal as she blows the lid off of this musical with her genius.