So last night as I was walking home from work, I saw someone who looked familiar on the street. I couldn’t figure out HOW I knew him, but he looked like someone I knew (and liked). As he crossed the street, it dawned on me – it was the DAD FROM DIRTY DANCING (no, not the movie, the play that’s in Playhouse Square right now).
So, like the goofball I am, I shouted across the street – “Great performance!!” Thankfully he turned around, smiled and waved. Phew. I almost added “I love you!” but I’m glad I stopped. Because that would’ve been awkward.
Speaking of awkward, did I mention that Ali and I took a selfie on our way to see Dirty Dancing? Because that’s totally normal … right? I love my friends 🙂
Wednesday night B & I saw Next To Normal at Playhouse Square. It was the last night of the inaugural Review Crew’s duties. It was a bittersweet feeling – I felt proud to know that the first season was through, but sad that our time as Playhouse Square insiders was over. And that’s exactly the feeling the end of the musical – bittersweet.
The show was incredible. The set was really unique – it was stationary, hardly ever moving or changing, yet providing the backdrop for every scene in the play, from a kitchen to a doctor’s office to a high school dance. The orchestra was incredible – not only was the rock music refreshing and catchy (even when the lyrics were depressing, I found myself bopping my head and tapping my toes, it was that entertaining), but the members of the ensemble were all scattered throughout the set.
Without beating around the bush – the lead actress, Alice Ripley, did not live up to the hype. I really really really wanted to like her – she’s from Cleveland (went to Kent State), is a member of the original cast and even won a Tony award for this very performance when the play first came out. Her singing was just uncomfortable. Maybe she had a cold? Whatever it was, it sounded like every song was forced and that she was holding her true voice in.
That being said, the other actors were incredible. The story itself was amazing. The play was well-written, the actors were great and the plot intriguing. For those of you that don’t know what it’s about – read this first, and then decide if you want to see it. In plain words – and without giving away the surprise that I didn’t see coming – it’s a depressing, not-uplifting storyline. It’s about mental illness and all the ways a family is affected by it. It’s about losing loved ones and letting go. It’s not a happy, upbeat musical. When the curtain lifts at the end, you’re left with a haunting feeling, and want to ask yourself, “well, where do we go from here?” But that, in itself, and the fact that I’m still thinking about the play and how it made me feel – is the very reason the musical is worth seeing.
If you’re looking for a feel good, average musical, Next To Normal is not for you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see it – quite the contrary, as it was amazing. It’s a show that gives you an insider’s look into the lives of a seemingly normal family, that’s falling apart. It’s a show that makes you think about yourself and examine the life you’re living. It’s a show that stays with you.
The show is in town through the 19th. Buy tickets today here.
See what the other Review Crew members had to say:
Plus – here’s my new favorite song … such great music!
It’s been two weeks since I saw South Pacific at Playhouse Square with the Review Crew, and I feel awful that I haven’t sat down and written a review. Why? It’s not because I was at a loss for words (am I ever?). It’s not because I was simply too busy. No, it’s because I was trying to think of something critical to say. How could I write a review of a musical without critiquing the acting ..or the music … or the dancing? Well, all that and more were incredible and with that, I give you my review.
South Pacific was amazing. As I sat inside the majestic Palace Theater on the freezing winter February evening, I was transported to a tropical island in the South Pacific and forgot about the treacherous ice storm that was building outside. As soon as the curtain rose and the sound of the full orchestra (yes, you read that right — South Pacific is one of the few traveling productions with a full orchestra), I was captivated by the singing and romantic story. It was my first time seeing the production (I hadn’t even seen the movie before) and the music was all that music in a musical should be- memorable, catchy and something that makes you smile. Even the next day I found myself singing a few of my new favorites – There Is Nothing Like a Dame (who wouldn’t like a bunch of military men singing about ladies?!) and I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair. I enjoyed the story itself. While I loved the World War II era setting (especially the costumes .. loved the old bathing suits!), the tale, a timeless love story with underlying tones of racial prejudice, could have taken place in any era.
While it’s too late to buy tickets (sorry, I meant to have this posted sooner!), I highly recommend you keep an eye out for the next time it comes to Playhouse Square. Besides a few technical difficulties (mainly microphone/sound system issues) on Opening Night, the musical was a masterpiece and a must-see for anyone looking to take a mini tropical vacation — without leaving Cleveland.
Don’t take my word for it – see what the rest of the Review Crew had to say: