Geva Theatre’s production of rock musical “Next to Normal,” running from Jan. 8 to Feb. 10, is an electrifying and emotional show, and anything but ordinary.
With a small cast of only six actors but a huge repertoire of over 30 songs, the show is intensely focused on the lives of the characters. The story follows a family of four - mother, father, older son and younger daughter - and the effects of the mother’s mental instability on the family.
While all the actors are talented, the children of the family steal the show. Gabe, played by Cary Tedder, and Natalie, played by Lyndsay Ricketson, have extraordinary voices and are phenomenal actors.
Tedder’s rendition of “I’m Alive,” the musical highlight of the show, is thrilling to the point of being both scary and completely riveting and it was impossible to look away. His high notes were clear and vibrant, while lower notes were strong and fierce. The song showcased his vocal talent, as did “I Am The One”.
Tedder and Ricketson also have a duet in “Superboy and the Invisible Girl” that show off both their vocal strength and acting skills. Ricketson is a very believable and lovable. Her character Natalie carried much of the emotional weight of the show.
Catherine Porter, who plays Diana, the mother, is also excellent vocally and theatrically, though her part is not an easy one. Several of her best songs included, “My Psychopharmacologist and I,” “I Miss the Mountains” and “I Dreamed a Dance.” Her capacity to pull at the audience’s heartstrings is incredible.
Dan, the father, played by Bob Gaynor, is the weakest link in the cast with a scratchy voice and vocal register that didn’t seem to match his songs during the show. His acting, while far from poor, is not outstanding and the other actors and actresses far surpassed him in ability.
Henry, Natalie’s teenage love interest played by Jordan Craig, and Drs. Fine and Madden, both played by Googie Uterhardt, rounded out the cast nicely. Henry, sweet and supportive, has some cute songs and is vital to Natalie’s growth. Uterhardt does a good job playing the emotionally distant doctors.
Artistically, the set showed off family dynamics to a tee - Gabe’s room is in the attic of the house onstage so that, while singing, he can look down like a puppeteer on family members below. The set is well built and interesting, with multiple levels to showcase the different rooms of the home. The music, while occasionally a little too loud, perfectly supplements the emotions of the show.
Overall this is a fantastic production of the musical by the talented cast and crew at Geva.