Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

Posts Tagged ‘Diana

The Power of Good Writing

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With the overflow of new creative works coming into being each day, it’s a wonder that so much of it gets acclaim for being “good” writing. In fact, most of it that is considered “good” writing is quite mediocre in comparison to some of the greats. However, that being said, there are some literary based works that have come out within the past little while that have caught my attention and intrigue me even more each day.

There are many television shows that have come out in the last several years that rely heavily upon the writing. In the midst of the Reality TV storm, shows like Heroes, Pushing Daisies (although it was canceled), Supernatural (the writing is good for what it is…a realationship between two brothers), Dexter, and many others astound me because they play with words and dialogue. Their sheer quality astounds me because up until recently the plot driven, story-based program has been crippled by the frugality and quick production time of the reality shows. I’m glad that good tv is starting to be back on the air because honestly there are few reality tv programs that I can stand.

My main example of amazing writing  is the musical Next to Normal which follows the mental breakdown of Diana, a suburban housewife, and the effects of this on her family. I will openly admit that I have become a little obsessive about the musical. For the past few weeks (ever since I saw it in New York), I have listened to at least selected songs from it…some multiple times. However, it’s because the writing and the music itself have so many layers that each time I listen I gain something more. The word choice is immaculate, and the themes, both musical and verbal, are quite awe-inspiring because they do something that a lot of writing/music nowadays doesn’t do. They make you think. They make you have to mentally interact with them to create their meaning instead of putting everything out there from the beginning. Each time I have listened to N2N, I have started to understand more of the subtext and am allowed another peek into the ethereal realm that it delves into…the unseen…Amazing writing does this…it makes us think.

Good writing whether in TV, novel, play, music, etc. should take us to places that make us think. It shouldn’t leave us feeling like we’ve reveled in the squalor (like many reality tv shows do). I hope that over the next few years we see an emergence of more clever, creative, and wonderful writing and that the crappy stuff saunters towards extinction…

Written by uncannynerdyguy

April 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Next to Normal

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Next to Normal is a stunning, fairly new musical on Broadway in New York City. I had the privilege recently of going to NYC and seeing it for myself. Now, I’m not one to divulge a lot about a musical just in case people reading this plan to see it. I don’t want to ruin any beautiful moment of it. However, I will say that I give it 5 stars (out of 5) because it intrigues me and because its story made me cry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPfxUGMKgLA

In the show, you are introduced to a seemingly average family. Yet, this facade is not long lived as we find out that the mother Diana (played by Alice Ripley) has a history of mental illness. The show gives insight into how families deal with psychological disease and how they cope. N2N is grounded in amazing visuals and tight harmonies with the cast of six providing all the vocals for every song that is sung from “Just Another Day” till the finale “Light”. All the actors I saw played their parts wonderfully. Alice Ripley played the part of Diana superbly, belting out the “You Don’t Know” and bringing it down for more intimate numbers like ” I Miss the Mountains”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZQM7ELKrRA

J. Robert Spencer (playing Dan, the Dad), Adam Chanler-Berat (Henry), and Louis Hobson (Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine) performed to top-notch standard. They all left me feeling connected to their characters at various times during the show. However, the two standouts of the cast I saw were Kyle Dean Massey (Gabe) and Meghann Fahy (Natalie). These two play the children of Dan and Diana. I didn’t know if I was going to like Massey because I had heard him from recordings on youtube. I didn’t know if he was going to stand up to Aaron Tveit’s original performance; however, he blew me away because I thought him to have more poise and better pitch than Tveit (in live recording’s Tveit sometimes has sketchy pitch). Massey was wonderful. Fahy, who is in fact the understudy for the part of Natalie, did a better job in my opinion than Jennifer Damiano because she was less screechy and whiny on the top notes than Damiano is. This fact speaks wonders to me because I like to have a smoother sound in the tight harmonies. Sometimes, Damiano’s voice just seems to clash with the others (although the notes are there).

If you haven’t seen Next to Normal and you live in NYC or are visiting, I would suggest going to see this gem. Staged in the Booth Theater between 45th and Broadway, it boasts amazing sets and spectacle to keep anyone on their toes. The music and story will thrill you, chill you, and leave you sobbing yet hopeful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN6KXFeMK8A&feature=fvw