“The best musical of the season by a mile! Next To Normal is mesmerizing – an emotional powerhouse with a fire in its soul and a wicked wit that burns just as fiercely.” Rolling Stone
I couldn’t agree more. There was nothing normal about the play Next To Normalwhich dealt with a difficult theme with humor and realism, and an outstanding cast that gave a brilliant performance.
Many thanks to our friends Adrian and Jerene Au for sharing this amazing production with us. Produced by Pangdemonium!productions, Next To Normal is an extraordinary musical that shares the story of Diane, a woman battling bipolar disorder coupled with schizophrenic hallucinations and the effect her condition has on her family.
There is Dan, her hapless husband who fights to keep her mind stable and his family intact. Their teenage daughter Natalie struggles to cope with her mother’s medical condition while dealing with her own growing pains and blossoming relationship with her boyfriend, Henry. In the meanwhile, we learned that Diane’s son Gabe, whom she has created a super-hero image, is not what he seems to be. Things in this family are far from “normal”…
It is a super-charged play that bravely deals with the unspoken hardships of managing a mental illness within the family and the hidden toll the illness takes on the mental and physical wellbeing of the family members.
Diane is played by veteran actress Sally Ann Triplett, flanked by her stage son Gabe, played by Nathan Hartono and her devoted husband, Dan, played by our local favorite actor Adrian Pang.
Diane and Dan struggle with a tough and challenging roller coaster relationship as they attempt to manage Diane’s condition amidst the traumatic incident in their past that threatens to push their mental state to the brink of insanity.
One of my favorite scenes is this Rock Star doctor who treats and counsels Diane through her illness. He has an AMAZING voice.
Did we also mention the incredible singing performances in this play?
After the play, we had the privilege to hang out with the cast and their friends. Wine and whiskey were served and the cast members were nice enough to chat and pose with us. I was so happy to meet Sally Ann Triplett – the British actress with an astounding array of roles and performances in theatre productions and television appearances.
Posing with the lead actor, Adrian Pang (middle) who shared with us that his two sons are interested in joining and inheriting the family business. What a very likable and affable guy!
I can’t believe I’ve met these two talented young stars – 17-year old Julia Abueva (Natalie) whom Oprah declared as one of the ‘World’s Most Talented Kids’ in 2008, now a senior at her high school and looking forward to her overseas foray next year; and 22-year old Indonesian-Chinese Nathan Hartono (Gabe), a current music student in Boston and a relative newcomer in the local theatrical scene but is making everyone notice the young hotshot.
Finally, there is Juan Jackson (Doctor) who shares the secret to his defined biceps with Adrian and Tarun (middle) – protein supplements! And what an amazing baritone voice this man has!
Next To Normal is performed at the Drama Centre Theatre from now till 22 September. Get your tickets from SISTICtoday!
Look out for Pangdemonium’s next production − Gruesome Playground Injuries by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph (31 Oct to 10 Nov). Read more about it HERE.