Not a review per se; rather, a quick report. I saw the SA premiere of Next to Normal last night; it's being staged as a co-production by Adelaide companies Factory and Six Foot Something. I'd heard of the show before, but know practically nothing about the specifics – and a whole bunch of recommendations from people who'd seen it that it was excellent.
And they were right; it's an absolutely brilliant show. It has an unusually strong narrative for a musical, so much so that, combined with the way they segued into each other, it was several songs in before anyone remembered it was a musical and applauded.
Without going into detail – there are quite a few plot developments that, as far as I'm concerned, are more enjoyable without knowing – it's about a family dealing with mental illness. And it's done in an amazingly sensitive way, both by the script and the performances; several of the cast told me afterwards that they'd had a mental health professional give them advice on conveying it as realistically as possible.
However, realism alone wouldn't necessarily make for an entertaining show. But combining it with some very well-written songs and the aforementioned strong narrative and you've the potential for greatness. In the hands of director/designer David Lampard and musical director Peter Johns and an excellent cast – Rosanne Hosking, Paul Talbot, Mitchell Sanfilippo, Emma Bargery, Scott Reynolds and Rod Schultz – it comes to life in tremendous fashion.
Anyway, it's on until this Saturday, May 26, at the State Opera Studio in Netley. You can get tickets here. Oh, and if you do want a proper review, check out Aaron MacDonald's for the ATG, or MiriamK's at Kryztoff Raw.
Of course it's not the only show about family dysfunction on in Adelaide at the moment; State Theatre SA has one of the best-ever plays about complicated domestic situations, Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, playing as well. It's an excellent production, and you can read my review of it here, and get tickets (if there are any left) here.