The Pulitzer Prize winning Next to Normal deals with mental illness and the effects it can have on suburban family life. Currently playing at the Lower Ossington Theatre (LOT), a portion of the proceeds are fittingly being donated to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Nicki and I were excited to head down to LOT for the opening night of the play, which interestingly enough is also a rock musical. To be honest, I wasn’t too sure what to expect having done minimum research on the storyline but I had seen the LOT actors in action before so I knew we wouldn’t be disappointed. These guys are truly a talented bunch and after seeing them in the laugh-out-loud Avenue Q, they really proved their ability and range with this hard hitting portrayal of a mother dealing with bipolar disorder and the effects it has on her family.
On that note: bring tissues! The subject is a sensitive one and it proved rather traumatic for Nicki and I as we watched the characters struggle with heartbreaking circumstances. Even the rocky soundtrack couldn’t prevent us from turning into blubbering wrecks. However, the actors certainly reaffirmed their vocal abilities and the fact that they were backed by a live band made the music all the more impressive and perhaps even more hard-hitting.
The show is raw, complex and emotional so don’t expect to leave with pep in your step. Rather, it may induce goosebumps, watery eyes, and an urge to hotfoot it to the nearest bar for a keg-sized Sauv, but it is definitely worth the trip all the same.
We Torontonians are so fortunate to have access to this adorable theatre packed full of talented cast and crew. It also happens to be located on one of the hottest streets in town so make a night of it! Just make sure you’re armed with waterproof mascara.
Directed by Heather Braaten with musical direction from Paul Moody, LOT’s production of Next to Normal is a must-see. The show is running until September 29th with performances scheduled Thursday to Saturday at 8pm and matinees at 2pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday. Get your tickets online at lowerossingtontheatre.com.
Photo credit: Seanna Kennedy.