The intimate story about a mother battling depression and bi-polar disorder, which also delves into prescription drug abuse, suicide, grief and the breakdown of an American family, seemed an unlikely candidate for a stage musical, let alone a commercial Broadway production.
Next to Normal went on to earn 11 2009 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, and took honors for Best Score, Best Orchestrations and Best Actress. Despite losing the Best Musical Tony to the mega-musical Billy Elliot, Next to Normal was remembered by the Pulitzer committee in 2010 when it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book/lyrics) penned the emotional work that arrived on Broadway in March 27, 2009, and officially opened April 15, 2009, at the Booth Theatre following an Off-Broadway run at Second Stage and a regional engagement at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Next to Normal played 21 previews and 733 performances on Broadway. Michael Greif directed the musical.
Yorkey told Playbill.com, "It's an incredibly exciting and thrilling and triumphant moment because whoever thought we would get this far? To run this long? I see our show listed under long-running shows in magazines and that's incredible to me. Next to Normal has thrived with this new cast on Broadway and it's thriving on tour. Closing night is a celebration of what we all did to get it there."
"It's certainly a bittersweet thing," Kitt added. "It's so gratifying to look back at what we accomplished with this piece so unexpectedly, and I'm so proud and so grateful. It's the end of a phase for the show. But this is just one element now. There are productions being mounted all over the world. Even though Next to Normal is closing on Broadway, it's still playing on tour and in Finland. Although it's sad to see it end in New York, it goes on, and it goes on with all of us who helped create it." The current cast features Tony Award nominee Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley, Kyle Dean Massey, Meghann Fahy and original cast members Adam Chanler-Berat and Louis Hobson.
Actress Alice Ripley earned critical acclaim and a Tony Award for her portrayal of a mother struggling with mental illness. She repeats her work in the national tour, which launched Nov. 23, 2010, in Los Angeles.
Next to Normal earned Tony Awards for Best Score (Kitt/Yorkey), Best Orchestrations (Kitt/Michael Starobin), Best Actress (Ripley) and received Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Featured Actress (Jennifer Damiano), Best Actor (J. Robert Spencer), Best Direction (Michael Greif), Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design.
Kitt and Yorkey previously reflected on their work in an interview with Playbill.com following their Pulitzer Prize win. "Without Rent and Stephen Sondheim, there is no Next to Normal," Kitt said. "I think that we've always been moved and inspired to write material that maybe says something a little different through musical theatre. I think at the very beginning, when we set out to write this, we just wanted to write something that mattered to us, something that felt maybe that it hadn't been explored in musical theatre before. But never could we have imagined in our wildest dreams that we'd be here."
"I think we wanted to take chances," Yorkey added. "We wanted to write something that wasn't safe and didn't seem on the face of it like a commercial hit. And, we learned along the way that that made its road very complicated."
Next to Normal has set design by Mark Wendland, costume design by Jeff Mahshie, lighting design by Kevin Adams and sound design by Brian Ronan. The creative team also includes Sergiio Trujillo (musical staging), Charlie Alterman (musical direction), Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt (orchestrations) and AnnMarie Milazzo (vocal arrangements).