Have you seen this play on Broadway or on one of its travelling productions?
Brief summary as follows [WITH SPOILERS];
Diana Goodman is a mother dealing with depression and bipolar disorder, with a long history of medication. Her husband Dan suffers as well but he makes little mention of it and focuses on his wife. Their daughter Natalie is a hard working student hoping to graduate early with a scholarship to Yale, and is deeply affected by the goings on of her parents. Their son Gabe, unnamed until the last few moments of the play, is a smart-ass who has a relationship with his mother only, and wonders "Why does he hate me?" referring to Dan. We learn halfway through the first act that their son passed away before Natalie was born, and has been and continues to be a delusion of Diana's creating. While Diana undergoes a drug plan, goes off of it on purpose, undergoes talk therapy, and finally to rid herself of her delusion at Dan's insistence does ECT. When she gets home from her treatment we realize she has lost nineteen years of her memory. Meanwhile, Natalie is experimenting with drugs and dating a boy named Henry, as well as trying to cope with the stress of school and an upcoming piano recital that could determine her scholarship future, as Dan trying to hold everything together.
The rest of the play follows her struggle to remember, her conflict with Dan, her attempts to repair her relationship with Natalie, and the family trying to find their way.
This rock opera is raw and real, with humour in unexpected places. I saw it in a theatre production that travelled to Calgary and Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) only, and I actually saw it three times I loved it so much. The characters move you, the almost constant flow of songs stays with you, and the set was just unreal. As it is set in Seattle, they had real running water simulating rain in the background that was phenomenal and yet made almost no sound. Set almost entirely in the Goodman's home
they had divided the stage into a two-storey home that was functional and appropriate, and the actors were able to use it to their fullest advantage; I even read a theory that this metallic set was designed to blur the imagery of house and prison.
As a travelling production of two cities only they were only in town for three weeks. I did see the show three times and I as well attended a cabaret put by the performers where they sang their favourite songs (not from the musical) and told stories. I was lucky enough to meet them all afterwards as it was hosted in an informal setting, and get one of my programs signed!
The rundown of the actors I saw were:
- Diana Goodman
Kathryn has lived and performed in London in several musicals and theatre productions, and keeps a home there still though she is in Canada again. She once was hired as a singer that travelled up and down the Irish coast, and was in a smaller production of NTN before this one. She may literally be the nicest person I've ever met.
- Dan Goodman
I've actually seen Réjean once before as The Beast in Beauty and the Beast; he's fantastic! I'm no expert so I'm going to guess he's a baritone? He could sing the Grinch's theme song with 0 effort, I'll put it that way! A great performer, you felt everything with each lyric he put out for you. I sincerely hope I'll have the pleasure of seeing him again.
- Natalie Goodman
Sara has been in multiple productions with a few minor TV/movie roles; she starred alongside Akin in NTN's smaller production and has an amazing voice that sounds almost exactly like Jennifer Damiano's (the original Broadway Natalie).
I thought that Michael's role was great; understated, almost always a dose of humor, and amazing chemistry with Sara. Then I saw him perform at the cabaret and was blown away! His voice is incredible, and I realize now that the role really limited him. He also plays the guitar and is probably the second nicest person I've ever met! He made sure
I got a signature from everyone when he realized how shy I was!
- Gabriel Goodman
Robert was cast perfectly in my opinion for this role. He sings in a higher register, and his voice left you feeling just as haunted as Diana. He in particular played up the stage, climbing all over it, jumping down, and he was so in character that I could have cried. The acting as well as the voice was flawless. Robert was recently cast as Tommy in The Who's rock opera of the same name in the Stratford Festival at Avon. During the cabaret he at one point sang "The Girl In 14G" which really broadcast his range and skill; opera, jazz, and humor, all in one tasty package (he was in boxers only at one point during the show and whew! I learned that he was doing the P90X workout program and it's working wonders for him! *leer*). I've actually seen him before in the Rocky Horror Picture show that the theatre did the season prior, but didn't recognize him until I saw the programme as the makeup was so well done!
- Dr. Fine/Dr. Madden
I remember John well having once received a lap dance from him! The front row in an interactive production of Rocky Horror is a great place to have that happen! When I told him about it, he laughed and signed my programme "And many more to come". Anyways! He was the lead in RHPS, Lumière in Beauty and the Beast, and a whole host of other characters in other plays and musicals. Just simply phenomenal John has the kind of personality that made him exactly the right choice to emcee the cabaret. In his work in this play in the dual role of both the psychopharmacologist (one song only) and the helpful and concerned therapist Dr. Madden he is both hilarious and touching, a goof in one role, a professional and eager doctor in another. I knew when I saw he was in it that this show would be great, and I was right.
Anyways, that's my long and enthusiastic opening post! It's easy to tell that I loved it, and I would see it three more times if I had the chance! Haha.