next to normal (I’m not using capitals here because you’re not supposed to) is another of my favorite shows that I have never seen. I own the cast recording, and I have the script, it’s out in book format and I’ve but an e-copy, which is how I know that they recorded the cast album as they were putting the final touches on the show: some of the lyrics are different. But I’ve never seen it, in part because I didn’t know the show existed (more on that in a minute) and in part because I wouldn’t have been able to afford the trip to New-York even if I had known. Really, if I’d known what I was missing then, it would have broken my heart.
I learned about next to normal about two years ago. I was seeing various Youtube videos defending the casting of the Les Miserables movie adaptation, featuring bits of the actors signing. Aaron Tveit, who played Enjolras in the movie, was represented with the end of this really catchy song: “I’m alive”, from next to normal, in which he originated the character of Gabe. I really liked the song, so I dug around for more songs and clips from the show, and for information. And then I learned something.
I learned that before it went on Broadway, before it went out of town, before it was first played Off-Broadway, before it was called next to normal, there was a workshop for what was then called Feeling Electric. The name sort of sounded familiar when I first read it, and I realized why soon after: at the time, I was following Anthony Rapp on Twitter (on my personal account), and he was talking about Feeling Electric because he was one of the actors in the workshop. So logically speaking, I should have been one of the earliest fans of the show, but at some point before the transition between Feeling Electric and next to normal, I stopped using Twitter, so I missed the transition, and next to normal flew right over my head as a result.
So now I feel a bit stupid about my lack of knowledge. But, as I mentioned earlier, if I had known, I would have been heartbroken because I wouldn’t have been able to see the show. So it’s sort of a lose-lose situation, except that I still win, in a way: I have an amazing cast recording to listen to, and next to normal is a great show with a powerful message that you can still appreciate just by listening to the music. Also, Aaron Tveit has the voice of an angel, and he was great in Les Miserables. So, yay!