Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

Posts Tagged ‘I miss the mountains

I Miss the Mountains: Spoiler Alert

with 4 comments

In the show Next to Normal (N2N), Alice Ripley’s character Diana sings a song called “I Miss the Mountains” in which she talks about missing the pain that she had when she wasn’t in a drug induced stupor. She talks about when she was younger and how she misses the woman that she used to be. Yesterday, while at dinner with some of my friends, we were discussing N2N and this song came up. I was saying that I enjoyed the songs that Diana sings because 1: they’re beautiful and 2: they’re in my range if I sing them in lower octaves (I’m a baritone and the men in the show are all pretty tenortastic).

One of my friends who is familiar with the musical as well, we actually saw it as a group in NYC, made the comment that the song doesn’t fit with the overarching musical feel of the show. It is a rock opera, and this number feels very much like a power ballad…not very rock opera-y.  It doesn’t rely on the drum set or the electric guitar to convey the emotion…it mainly uses Alice Ripley’s voice and a few softer toned instruments like the piano and strings. It is a beautiful piece that shows that she has hope for herself to feel again (however derogatory this may be for her health and wellness). The imagery used in the song paints a wonderful picture of someone struggling emotionally against themselves and the medicine that is keeping them “balanced and on an even keel”. While “everything is perfect, nothing’s real” for them. Finally at the end of the song, she decides that she will risk it without medicine so that she can feel again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2CXMXEIPI0

But going back to the idea of the song not fitting, I agree with my friend. It is a beautiful song, yet it does seem out of place in the musical. With musical form, it is the odd ball. However, I will say that in my mind it does fit. The reason being that the song itself is a moment of clarity for Diana in the cacophony of the life that she lives in…of the musical that she resides it. It allows us a brief peek into the  calm that Diana is feeling and the fact that it doesn’t feel “normal” or real to her…it is outside the realm of reality that she has been living in…the song itself represents the drug induced stupor that Diana is in…it is calm and seemingly wonderful, but in reality, it is not what she is used to…it is not what makes her come alive. The fact that the music change is symbolic of the change that has occurred to her between this song and “My Psychopharmacologist and I”…it’s actually quite brilliant within the framework of the musical.

My other reason for the song is that I believe every musical writer writes with some idea in mind of having a stand alone song and “I Miss the Mountains” is this. If you watched it performed anywhere, you can get a feel for the song without having to have the overarch of the story. Honestly, I believe that it is good for any musical that is going to try to drum up publicity with concerts to have at least one number like that, and this one does just that. It gives enough of a hint at the story to be intriguing and has its own meaning and structural support as a solo piece.

So, yeah, I think it’s quite obvious at this point that I am enamoured with N2N…It’s a wonderful show that I would suggest everyone seeing if they get the chance. If not, I recommend getting the soundtrack and listening to it on repeat so that you can begin to fall in love with a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize Winning masterpiece.

Advertisements

Written by uncannynerdyguy

April 13, 2010 at 11:59 am

Next to Normal

with one comment

 

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