Review: “Next to Normal”
By Britney Brunache, A&E Editor
This fall, from October 30th to November 3rd, the Gettysburg College Theater Arts Department and the Owl & Nightingale Players presented the Next to Normal musical at the Kline Theater. Directed by Bruce Moore, the performance, put on by a mix of students from first-years to seniors, received standing ovations throughout the weekend.
The show, originally by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, portrays a family facing the issues of loss, grief, and mental illness. It focuses heavily on the mother of the family, played passionately by Anderson Gray ‘23, and her struggles with bi-polar disorder and balancing her love of her family with the chaos of her mental well-being. Her husband, played by Zachary de Besche ‘22, supports his wife and family but eventually recognizes that he needs to face his own problems before he can help the others around him. Their daughter, portrayed beautifully by Laura Duffy ‘23, deals with feeling unloved by her mother, the pressures of school and a first relationship, and even drug addiction. Finally, the late son of the family, played by Brian Buechele ‘22, acts as almost a malicious force as he passed away as a baby and haunts the mind of the mother as she faces his image pressuring her to do things she would otherwise not do. In addition to the performers, the show included a live orchestra accompaniment. The orchestra did an outstanding job bringing the beautiful music to life throughout the entirety of the show.
The show was extremely powerful and left viewers amazed with not only the talent of the students performing but also the maturity with which it was performed. The meaningfulness of this show is something that was extremely well communicated by the performers and the audience could be seen feeling all of the emotions right along with them as they told such a powerful story. The topics the storyline covers are issues that are often avoided in society, things such as how grief and mental illness can affect families, and the students brought these issues into light through this play in a way that left many viewers almost speechless. Altogether, this performance was one that shocked the viewers with the power it held and the amazing renditions that every student involved gave throughout the weekend.