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The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Des Moines Civic Center plays Normal

Mental Illness can be taboo, swept under the rug of secrecy and the content for a musical. Hid beneath a veil of what appears to be normal life, mental illness can destroy family relationship.

The Des Moines Civic Center is playing host to a new musical, “Next to Normal,” fresh off a January 2011 Broadway closing. Opening in 2009, the show won three of eleven Tony Awards nominations. It also snatched a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, one of eight musicals to ever do so.

“Next to Normal” is in a class all of its own, with characters such as a mother, played by Tony Award winner as Outstanding Actress Alice Ripley, struggling with a deepening bipolar disorder. In rock star fashion, issues of suicide, substance abuse and psychiatry, hidden in the white houses and green lawns of suburban life are addressed.

The modern musical, written by Brian Yorkey and directed by original Rent director Michael Greif, hits a different chord than the happy-go-lucky musicals of Rodgers & Hammerstein.

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It’s deeper than “Legally Blonde” and more emotional than “The Music Man” but still full of catchy tunes that will leave the audience singing ballads from the moment the lights release and the curtain falls. With little lead in and punch beats, songs like “I’m Alive” will leave the audience wanting more.

“It left me with my mouth open with the unexpected twists it had,” Dale Stark, Civic Center public relations director, said. “It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.”

Modern aspects of the musical shine through the use of social media. In 2009, modified adaptation of Next to Normal was published on Twitter line by line. The campaign garnered a Best in Show Situation Interactive 2009 OMMA Award .

According to critical acclaim by The New York Times, “Next to Normal” joined the ranks of the one-fourth of Broadway shows that become commercial hits. With the recognizable purple color, the poster and merchandise can be found on fans across the country. Shirts, posters and other products will be available for purchase at the show.

The Civic Center of Greater Des Moines and “Next to Normal” paired with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Des Moines. NAMI advocates for education and help for mental illness for both the individual and their families.

“Next to Normal” is promised not be any “normal” musical. Catch it in Des Moines March 16-20. Click to to order tickets.

The Civic Center’s Willis Broadway Series continues with…

“Next to Normal” March 16-20
“Rock of Ages” April 19-24
“Young Frankenstein” May 3-8
“Chicago” June 2-5

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