This evening's performance of Next to Normal will be the final show for 2009 TONY award winner for Best Leading Actress in a Musical Alice Ripley after nearly a year and a half run. Ripley has been with the show in the role of Diana since it debuted at New York City's Second Stage, traveled out of town to Washington DC's Arena Stage, and opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. Ripley will continue with the show as it embarks on its first national tour. Next To Normal is a poignant show that explores an uncommon topic for musicals, a bi-polar mother also facing severe depression and other various psychological disorders. The play examines the effect that one person's mental illness has on the entire family. Brian D'Arcy James (Dan) and Jennifer Damiano (Natalie) also depart the show after this evening's performance.
My experience with the show is one that is certainly memorable. I arrived at the Booth theatre at around 9am one Friday last summer expecting to be able to purchase rush tickets (same day tickets at a discounted price) for the evening performance. However, I was about 40th in line with only 20 tickets available and soon found out that the first person in line arrived at 5am. Determined to get tickets my next time around, I arrived to the Booth promptly at 5am the next Friday and I was ecstatic to be first in line. The time went quickly and I bought my front row seat at 10am when the box office opened. I had high hopes for the show and certainly was not disappointed. The show had me on the edge of my seat and tossed me from emotional high to low and every place in between. Seeing Alice Ripley live onstage in this role will certainly go down as one of my most treasured theatre memories. While other performances have faded into history, hers remains as fresh in my mind as the day I first witnessed it. Brava Alice, Broadway will miss you terribly, but the rest of the country must now experience your talents. I will see you at the Kennedy Center!
Please comment and share your own experiences with Next To Normal...I would love to hear about them!