Next to Normal is a 2008 rock opera focusing on themes of loss, mental illness, and family life, which was the eighth musical - ever - to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Interestingly, the musical only took home three Tony Awards, one for best score, one for best orchestrations, and one for Alice Ripley as Diana Goodman, the leading lady.

Originally the show was a lighter production titled "Feeling Electric", focusing more on the medical treatment of bipolar disorder than the effects it had on family life. This was abandoned for the show's final direction, which was established by the time the show opened Off Broadway in 2008. The show moved to Broadway in 2009.

The show opens with Diana Goodman greeting her son as he comes home - at four in the morning. Diana is the typical overbearing parent, telling her son that she was worried - after all, he could have died. From there, we launch into the opening of the show (the song "Just Another Day"), which tracks Diana's family as they get ready for the day ahead and reveal their dissatisfaction with their suburban lives. As Diana's husband, Dan gets ready for an unfulfilling day at work, and her son and daughter, Natalie, get ready for another day at school, Diana has a mental breakdown in the kitchen. From here, the show launches into an examination of life with bipolar disorder and how it has affected Diana's family. As the plot progresses, a number of wham moments and tearjerkers readily demonstrate why the show earned not only your ticket money but also its Pulitzer.

Throughout the show the plot tracks Diana's interactions with her son and husband while she undergoes therapy to deal with her disorder, Natalie's poor stress management and growing attraction to love interest Henry, and the family's attempts at survival in a world that hasn't been kind to them over the years. While the plot threads never wrap up in a traditional "that's all, folks!" manner, all the threads do intertwine and come to a certain degree of closure with the final number.

The show is notable for being very accurate in its depiction of bipolar disorder, with the script actually changing when the definition of the disorder and its treatments were clarified further. It's also a Broadway (eventually; the original show debuted Off-Broadway) musical that isn't a romantic comedy or, really, overly happy. While in the end it takes a optimistic view of the events of the plot (the show ends with the decision that pain is just the cost of living - as put by Diana, "You don't have to be happy at all / To be happy you're alive) the show is very dark.

The original production starred Alice Ripley as Diana and Aaron Tyveit as her son. A cast album is available on iTunes and multiple recordings of the musical exist on Youtube, although many are from preview periods before the show was adjusted to its current form.

Also, a word of advice: do not look anything up about this show before seeing it. So much of the impact comes from the story reveals, which are surprising while being artfully foreshadowed enough to feel natural. While there may be questions about the musical you really wish to have answered, I suggest not looking it up unless you plan to never see it in the future. Anything that seems notably missing from this writeup is largely due to trying to avoid mentioning these crucial spoiler-able moments.

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