Content material Warning: This text discusses psychological sickness and suicide. It additionally comprises spoilers for the musical “Subsequent to Regular.”
Sunnyvale Group Gamers’ newest manufacturing of “Subsequent to Regular” is nothing in need of superb. The present, which opens a strong dialogue on psychological well being, was strengthened by spectacular casting and nuanced character relationships.
The musical facilities round a suburban household coping with the mom’s psychological sickness within the aftermath of a mysterious household tragedy. We start the present with a seemingly “excellent loving household” — the dad and mom Diana and Dan, and teenage kids Natalie and Gabe — preparing for a busy day.
Every part appears regular till Diana has a nervous breakdown that morning. It’s then revealed that Diana has been battling psychological sickness for years; whereas she has been prescribed medicine, nothing appears to work with out taking life away from her. After Diana decides to flush her medicine away, we be taught that her son Gabe will not be really alive — he died 16 years in the past as a child and an older model of him has been haunting her reminiscence ever since.
Sunnyvale’s manufacturing featured two casts dubbed the “Mountains” and “Lights” casts; I noticed the “Lights” solid on Saturday. The chemistry between the 2 leads, Dan and Diana, performed by Joseph Cloward and Christi Waybright respectively, was palpable. Cloward portrayed Dan as a patriarch who at occasions dismisses his spouse’s struggles, which was heartbreaking to look at. Lawson’s Diana was intense and emotional, and her struggles with psychological sickness had been portrayed with depth and empathy. Regardless of their rigidity, it’s apparent that the 2 characters love one another dearly.
Their connection is obvious within the small particulars injected into the manufacturing, like how Dan holds Diana’s hand each time he takes her to the physician. Their affection elicits the viewers’s sympathy for each, making Diana’s alternative to depart their marriage within the finale even sadder. Within the closing scene, Dan collapsing on the ground in sorrow and Natalie comforting him left me bawling.
The staging of the present was additionally excellent, showcasing the musical’s critique of the construction of the American nuclear household. The set design by Sophie Sonntag made sturdy use of the stage area; the body of a home stood within the again, whereas a eating desk, sink and home windows had been set within the foreground. Home windows had been hung in entrance of the home with uncovered wire, including an eerie aspect to the staging. Stairs resulting in a small balcony had been positioned immediately in entrance of the home, performing as a illustration of Diana’s creativeness. Gabe was regularly current on the higher degree, metaphorically powering over Diana’s feelings and the household dynamics.
Natalie and her stoner associate Henry (performed by Mai Abe and Jenni Chapman respectively) had been cute and charming collectively. Chapman’s portrayal of Henry as non-binary was refreshing, making for an particularly stinging impression when Dan stated Henry was a foul affect on Natalie, which might be seen as a resistance to Henry’s queer id.
The affinity between the 2 teenage characters was endearing. They leaned into the caricature of adolescence and theatricality with extra exaggerated motion and awkwardness, which labored nicely for his or her angsty juvenile roles. Their dynamic labored nicely, particularly within the second act as Henry’s caring aspect was revealed as Natalie started abusing medication.
The connection between actors and their creative decisions demonstrated key themes of the present. For instance, the strained mother-daughter dynamic between Natalie and Diana was well-executed. Earlier than “I Miss the Mountains,” Diana’s heartbreaking ballad about eager to really feel emotion once more, she tries to speak to Natalie in regards to the latter’s relationship with Henry, however Natalie actively avoids her. The music turns into not solely about Diana lacking her psychological state earlier than the medication made her really feel numb, but in addition about her youth, when she was carefree like Natalie.
The portrayal of the character Dr. Madden/Dr. High quality (Ryan Liu) was additionally noteworthy. Liu did a wonderful job of displaying huge pharma and the way a person, like a physician, works inside a system that villainizes psychological sickness. The nuance in his efficiency was spectacular, and you’ll see his lack of knowledge towards Diana, even when he thinks he’s doing the proper factor.
The one disappointment within the present was the portrayal of Gabe (Theo Twilleager). Whereas Twillleager displayed the softer and playful facets of the character, he didn’t really feel like a menace, which is a vital side of the character. The songs “I’m Alive” and “I Am the One” didn’t hit the way in which they usually would. They need to have been as a lot an expression of frustration and disappointment, as a risk that his loss of life will hang-out the household perpetually as they repress their trauma.
One other weak level within the present was the sound mixing. Many traces weren’t caught, and the vocal harmonies weren’t all the time current when the sound on some microphones had been decrease than others. Nevertheless, the ultimate music, “Gentle,” was well-executed, with everybody projecting nicely and their voices mixing into a fantastic chord.
Regardless of minor flaws, Sunnyvale Group Gamers’ manufacturing of “Subsequent to Regular” is a must-see for anybody who appreciates musical theater and desires to be taught extra in regards to the complexities of psychological well being in America.
Editor’s Observe: This text is a overview and consists of subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.