Next to Normal

There’s nothing conventional about the musical Next to Normal, or the bus-and-truck tour featuring its original Tony Award-winning star. this Pulitzer-winning show, co-created by Issaquah’s Brian Yorkey (and workshopped at the Village Theatre), is an audacious, plaster-chipping dissection of family ills and mental illness. Diana (Alice Ripley) is crippled with bipolar disorder and depression. What’s worse, the only one who really understands what she’s going through, it’s disclosed early on, is the dead son who lives only in her fevered imaginings. Diana’s husband is the typical American male who believes that there’s a proper pill and therapy regimen for everything; and their daughter seems intent on following in mom’s footsteps with an equal predilection for pharmaceuticals. Tom Kitt’s music is a ferocious barrage of volcanic showpieces and slashing power chords that chase the terrific vocalists around stage in one showdown after another. In the audience, you feel like you’re in the old Maxell audiophile ad—only here, you’re the one experiencing those sonic booms roaring from the house speakers. There hasn’t been a musical so welded to high-decibel rock sounds since Tommy. Kitt and Yorkey start with the brilliant metaphor of rock music as brainstorm; then they crank that puppy up to eleven. KEVIN PHINNEY

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 & 7 p.m. Starts: Feb. 1. Continues through March 13, 2011

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