Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Next to Normal- Changing Broadway's Mindset

I don't usually make predictions about who will win Tony Awards for excellence in the Broadway theater but this years 2009 awards program are going to be a blast. And let me tell you why.

Next to Normal, which is selling nearly 90 % of its tickets to every performance since they were nominated for 11 Tony Awards (something that never happened often in years past) a few weeks ago, could possibly win this years most coveted prize for Best Musical. My feeling is that Billy Elliot, the wonderful "dancing" import from London will win the top prize but the critics really loved Next to Normal. More so than they did Billy Elliot. Now please don't get me wrong, these are both superb pieces of theater and in my opinion could share the Best Musical award. But you and I know that's not how life is, is it? It seems like we always need a winner, don't we?

But speaking of Next to Normal, this excellent musical drills deep into the heart and soul of family life. The show explores a family in crisis, how they live, cope, seek medical attention when necessary, and in short, try to hold onto each other to keep their world together. Alice Ripley has one of the lead roles in Next to Normal (she played in Tommy in 1993 and in Side Show a few years ago), for which she received a Tony nomination. She plays a suburban mom struggling with a mental illness while still trying to be a wife and mother. Ms. Ripley is outstanding in her role as Diana and she is nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress. Although she is up against 3 very talented other leading ladies, I think she will win this years award. J. Robert Spencer plays opposite Ms. Ripley as her husband Dan. I loved Mr. Spencer in this show every bit as much as when I saw him in the original company of Jersey Boys. Although he is nominated for a Tony Award in the Best Performance by a Leading Actor category, he has a great deal of competition in this category with the three leading youngsters in Billy Elliot, Brian d'Arcy James from Shrek The Musical, Constantine Maroulis from Rock of Ages and Gavin Creel from Hair, which should win the Best Revival of a Musical.

Next to Normal is nominated for 9 other Tony Awards in addition to the 2 that I mentioned. I think it should be heavily considered for Best Original Score (Music and Lyrics) Written for the Theater as it is exhilarating to say the least. And Next to Normal has got to be in the running to win the Best Musical Award. Although the Tony voters are often from out-of-town venues and they might vote for Billy Elliot so they can possibly bring "road show" companies of Billy Elliot to their local towns (Billy Elliot is more of a mainstream Broadway Show than Next to Normal)- one still never knows how they will vote. Five years ago, the Tony voters gave the Best Musical award to Avenue Q instead of Wicked, so who knows for sure?

Next to Normal is produced by David Stone and several other Broadway regular investors. I predict that although the subject matter may not be what some decide they think they should go to see- that they definitely reconsider. The theater should make us all feel something deep inside. So Next to Normal isn't a light a fluffy musical comedy. But you might want to ask yourself why wouldn't you want to see a show that deals with family crisis and mental illness. After all, are we not people that have problems? Is everything supposed to be a tap dancing, toe-tapping, slap stick comedy?

All I know is this. I went to see Next to Normal and plan on going back several more times. It's about family. We all have a family, so why not see a show that will help us all be grateful for the goodness we have in our lives.

Go see Next to Normal, I guarantee you'll have a fantastic time at the theater. One you'll think about for a long time to come.

If you need some great seats, the show plays Broadway's smaller than usual Booth Theater so all the seating is good. You can call Applause Theater Service in New York City if you need tickets. Right now, we can even get you tickets at specially discounted prices that are BELOW FACE VALUE, but only through performances dated June 6, 2009. After this date and some Tony Awards, we expect it to become a "sellout" hit and the discounts may be discontinued. So if you can go now, you can save lots of money but if you need to go after the Tony Awards, we can still get you awesome seats at a reasonable price.

In any case, Applause is all about Broadway theater, tickets and service. We like to think we're the best in the Broadway business. Try us out, I'm sure you'll be glad you did.

Sincerely,
Rich Gladstone
Applause
311 West 43rd Street, suite 601
NY,NY 10036
local phone 212-307-7050
toll free 800-451-9930
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