The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
December 2017

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Completely Taken Over

I was very happy for my sister many weeks ago when she told me that she got the cellist job at Pioneer Theater Company during their production of Next to Normal, a musical that just finished on Broadway.  At least I think they finished.  I'm not sure, actually.  Anyway, this was not a touring troupe; PTC put on the show themselves and it played for three weeks.  As my sister started learning the music and going to rehearsals she raved about the show and its music.  I got pretty excited.  Then she let me know that there was a considerable amount of cursing in the show, and that it was about a woman with bipolar disorder along with a psychotic episode here and there.  Oh.  What a drag - doesn't sound like much fun to watch at all.  But I really wanted to support my sister.  Then she gave me a cd of most of the music from the show; surprisingly, the story is told almost entirely through music with a very small number of spoken lines interjected here and there.  I put on the disc in the car, and I totally fell in love with the music.  And the story.  And I pretty much cried my way through the whole thing. It's got some very tough subject matter but so humanly told.

My parents went to see it before I did, and returned with very positive and glowing reviews. I was able to go see the show last week - the night after we got home from Seattle actually. Kind of crazy to go that night but it was the only night I could and I didn't want to miss it. Oh my. I don't even know what to say about the show except that I was absolutely spell bound the whole time. I love the music - it's kind of a rock-musical, and it's very powerful. And everyone I know who got to see it saw some part of their own life story played out on that stage in some way. Including myself. It was very emotional. In fact, my friend Carrie got so upset during one part that she fell apart, so much so that the stranger next to her wrapped her arms around Carrie to comfort her. During the intermission, a time during which I normally like to stretch my legs, go for a walk, people watch or grab a little treat, I didn't have any desire at all to leave the auditorium. There was a powerful feeling in there and I just had to stay and see the show through before I could move on.

After the show I was very lucky because my sister introduced me to the two leads.  Judy McLane played Diane, the mother of this family, and Jonathan Rayson played Dan, her husband. We ended up chatting for quite a while and talking a lot about the show.  Well, mostly - Judy McLane, who is on hiatus from Broadway in her role as Tanya in Mamma Mia, has some very tired vocal chords so she was miming, signing and writing notes on paper. We had a neat conversation and I asked the actors if it was common to have a therapy session with the public every night after the show.  Funny.  It was a delightful chance to talk and meet with the stars.  I'm always so starstruck and feel very silly, but I don't think I made too big a fool of myself.  As far as you know.

So now I'm having a problem.  There is something about Next to Normal that I just can't quite get over.  The music plays in my head, I sing it even when I'm not listening to it, I have the desire to pop in the CD all the time.  And frankly, I kind of need a break.  I can't quite tell if there is something about the plot or music that I need to work through and deal with, or if it's just really catchy music that has implanted itself in my head.  Has this ever happened to you?  You totally love something and let it in your life and then it slowly starts to take over?  I'm not sure it's such a good thing.  So I'm listening to a lot of other Broadway tunes at the moment and also trying to search my soul a little to figure out what has got me so obsessed.  Well, maybe it was just a great show.  I do wish I could edit out the language because that is definitely not something I need reverberating about my brain - I've gotten good at quickly turning down the volume as necessary.  Anyway, I kind of recommend it a lot, and I kind of don't.  I loved it.  I'm inviting it to move on now.

As a happy epilogue, my sister was invited to return for PTC's next musical, Annie.  I think that will be slightly more light-hearted and perhaps Bitty and I can go on a date to see it around Christmastime.

2 comments: said...

Hi, Rachel!...

My friend Fredi just came upon this blog entry and sent it to me! It was such a delight meeting you that night after NEXT TO NORMAL, and I'm so happy that witnessing the show had such a profound impact on you. I know that those of us who were involved still feel changed by the experience. It really is a powerfully moving piece.

I'm actually leaving soon to play Dan again in a production at Arkansas Rep in Little Rock which plays most of the month of May then moves to the Kauffman Center in Kansas City, MO. I'm very excited!

Anyway...Hope all is well with you and yours. Please send my regards to Margaret!

:) jonathan

Jonathan Rayson

Fredi Pomerance said...


I was so delighted to stumble across your blog and the kind words you had to say about Next to Normal and my friend Jonathan's performance. I came out to SLC from New York City to see the show and it was thrilling on many levels. Yes, theater can be life-changing!

I also want to thank you for using the photo I took of Jonathan and his co-star Judy McLane. It was high praise, indeed!

I loved my time in SLC and hope to return soon.
Best regards,
Fredi Pomerance