“Next To Normal” Playing at the Susquehanna Stage Company April 7-15

Great theatre not only entertains, it pushes boundaries and provokes thought.

Next to Normal may not have Hamilton’s name recognition; however, it easily ranks as one of the greatest musicals of this century. Provocative and funny, topical and emotionally stirring, it’s the musical art form at its best. Lancaster area theatregoers now have a fantastic opportunity to see the 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Drama in a powerful, yet intimate, production at The Susquehanna Stage Co.

What makes Next to Normal consequential is its approachability and depth. We all probably know a family like the Goodmans, an attractive, middle class, nuclear family living in the suburbs. There’s the father, Dan (Adam Deiner), and high-school aged children Gabe (Nik Olsen) and Natalie (Sylvia Garner) who are struggling to take care of their mother, Diana (Julia Howey). While she may seem “normal” upon first glance, Diana’s battle is not with her kids or husband, career or life choices; it’s with mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder.

Mental illness is not an easy topic to musicalize, and yet Next to Normal triumphs in its storytelling in a way that few musicals do. The credit goes to Brian Yorkey’s stirring lyrics and poignant book and Tom Kitt’s frenetic rock-based score.

Directed by Artistic Director Jim Johnson with musical direction from Pat Enos and Sharon Boyer, the cast also features Sheldon Merkel and Asher Johnson.

Tickets are $22.00/reserved seating and available online at or by calling the theatre at 426-1277.