Next to Normal
An unflinching look at a suburban family struggling with the effects of mental illness.
Show Essentials

Full Synopsis

Act One

Following the "Prelude (Light)," lights go out and then reveal suburban mother Diana Goodman alone, waiting. Gabe, her seventeen year old son enters. Diana scolds him over his curfew, then quickly pushes him away as father Dan enters to check on his restless wife. Natalie, their equally restless overachieving daughter, crosses with an exorbitant amount of homework. Soon it is morning, and each family member prepares individually for "Just Another Day." But when Diana starts making extraneous sandwiches on the floor, the music stops. Dan helps the disoriented Diana as Natalie and Gabe exit.

Next, we find Natalie seeking refuge in a school practice room with the structure of classical piano ("Everything Else"). Her precious time preparing for an impending recital is prematurely interrupted by Henry--who introduces himself and confesses listening to her play daily. While it's clear he likes her, Natalie pushes him out and returns to diligently rehearsing.

We then find Diana receiving prescriptions from Doctor Fine, while Dan questions his own depression in the car ("Who's Crazy/My Psychopharmacologist and I"). Fine diagnoses Diana as bipolar depressive with delusional episodes. The song takes us through several weekly visits, echoed by voices selling myriad pharmaceuticals and warning of side effects. Although she's been medicated unsuccessfully for sixteen years, Doctor Fine continues to adjust her medications over the visits until Diana says that she doesn't feel anything--at which point he declares her stable.

Over the same weeks, Natalie and Henry have grown closer over hours spent together in the practice room. We find Natalie at Henry's house as he prepares a bong. When Natalie declines smoking because she's scared of being a disaster, Henry struggles to articulate his love for her ("Perfect For You"). The song carries them to the Goodman's house, where they kiss for the first time.

Diana witnesses this event of burgeoning love--triggering memories of extreme highs and lows ("I Miss the Mountains"). With her son's encouragement coupled with her desire to feel again, Diana flushes all of her new medications down the toilet.

We flash back to Dan, bouncing through his days ("It's Gonna Be Good"). When he discovers Henry and Natalie together on the porch, he invites Henry to stay for dinner, much to Natalie's chagrin. Dinner goes along swimmingly until Diana emerges with a cake exclaiming "It's someone's birthday!"

Dan goes to Diana and explains "He's Not Here." Their son died sixteen years ago. Devastated, Natalie storms out to her room. Henry politely excuses himself, and follows Natalie. Diana confesses to Dan that she flushed all of her new medication. When Dan empathetically offers to call Doctor Fine for a new round, Diana lashes out on him ("You Don't Know"). Dan tries to calm her down and regain her trust, as Gabe joins him ("I Am The One") attempting the same.

In her room with Henry, Natalie vents about her mother. Henry attempts to placate her by making a pipe out of an apple. Natalie dismisses the offer and further explains her anger ("Superboy and the Invisible Girl"). Diana comes in and unsuccessfully appeases the situation, followed by an unseen Gabe. When Henry offers the pipe again, Natalie takes it.

Meanwhile, Dan found highly regarded Doctor Madden through networking over depression online and at work. Diana spends several weeks with Doctor Madden, who appears to her as a rock star. Gabe joins her sessions to assert his existence ("I'm Alive").

Simultaneously, Dan and Natalie are continuing to struggle with Diana's problems. Natalie, trying to cope, is lead to sample some of the her mother's pills. When she takes the stage at her recital days later, her parents' empty seats escalate her emotional turmoil. Clearly affected, Natalie verbally rejects her classical selection and launches into a sloppy rock improvisation. Henry goes to her and helps her off the stage.

Meanwhile, Doctor Madden is using hypnosis ("Make Up Your Mind/Catch Me I'm Falling") to root Diana's trauma. Through this device, we learn about Diana's history with Dan, Gabe and Natalie. Finally, Diana agrees that it's time to let her son go. She goes home and begins to purge her son's things. Upon finding and opening a music box, Diana becomes drenched in a vision of dancing with her son ("I Dreamed a Dance"). When Gabe invites her to come away with him ("There's a World"), she does.

Doctor Madden enters with Diana's hospital chart. Diana Goodman was discovered in her home unconscious with self-inflicted razor wounds. Diana is treated, sedated, and restrained. Doctor Madden is upset.

Dan joins Doctor Madden at the hospital. Madden explains that ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is the next standard course of treatment for drug-resistant patients who are imminently suicidal. However, the therapy requires both Dan and Diana's consent. Dan goes home to clean up, sort his thoughts, and decide what to do ("I've Been").

The next day, Diana (with Gabe at her side) receives Doctor Madden's suggestion. She lashes out at Doctor Madden, refusing the treatment ("Didn't I See This Movie?"), until Dan arrives and convinces her it may be their last hope ("A Light In The Dark"). Dan and Gabe watch as she signs the consent form and is ushered out, briefly pausing to look back.

Act Two

While Diana begins a two week series of ECT treatments, we find Natalie losing her discipline and further experimenting with drugs and clubs ("Wish I Were Here"). Natalie is home when Dan brings Diana home from the hospital. Diana doesn't recognize her daughter. The Goodman family realizes Diana has lost nineteen years of memories ("Song of Forgetting").

Natalie leaves for school, where Henry confronts her ("Hey #1"). He questions her avoidance, sobriety, and commitment, as well as asks her to the spring formal dance. She leaves him without an answer.

Dan and Diana visit Doctor Madden, who assures them that Diana's memory loss may be partly psychogenic ("Seconds and Years"). Doctor Madden encourages Dan to use pictures and keepsakes to trigger memories and help Diana recover. Dan and Natalie gather to do so ("Better Than Before") with minor success. When the music box emerges from the pile of keepsakes, Dan whisks it away, leaving Diana puzzled. Gabe appears unseen and unheard as he sings about which is worse--the symptom or the cure ("Aftershocks").

Diana continues searching the mementoes for days, trying to uncover a memory that's tugging at her. When Henry arrives looking for Natalie, Diana is given great pause, studying his face and asking his age. Not phased, Henry hurries up to Natalie's bedroom to convince her to go to the dance. ("Hey #2"). When Natalie avoids accepting, Henry promises to try again the following evening. He leaves her with a ticket to attend.

Diana returns to Doctor Madden ("You Don't Know (Reprise)") by herself. He nearly discloses the root of her trauma (Gabe's death) before suggesting she further explore her history and talk with her husband. Diana goes home and finds the music box. Dan tries to stop her, but the irrevocable memories of her baby boy rush back ("How Could I Ever Forget?"). When Diana confesses remembering her son as being older, Dan quickly insists they return to Doctor Madden ("It's Gonna Be Good (Reprise)"). At the same time, Henry arrives to pick up Natalie for the formal. Dressed for the dance, Natalie emerges in time for both to witness Dan grab and smash the music box to pieces on the floor. Natalie is crushed and runs to her room. Henry follows.

Diana confronts Dan, wondering why he perseveres after how much trouble she's given. Upstairs, Natalie echoes her mother's sentiments to Henry ("Why Stay?"). Dan and Henry both answer with vows to stay steadfast and true ("A Promise"). Natalie and Henry embrace as Gabe reappears downstairs ("I'm Alive (Reprise)"). Seeing him, Diana bolts to see Doctor Madden. Natalie agrees to drive her, and tells Henry she will try to meet him later. Gabe lingers with Dan.

Diana asks Doctor Madden what can be done now. Madden assures her relapse is common. Diana discovers it's not her brain that's hurting: it's her soul ("The Break"). Doctor Madden urges her to continue ECT treatment ("Make Up Your Mind/Catch Me I'm Falling (Reprise)"). If left untreated, her chronic illness could be catastrophic. Diana declines further treatments and walks out.

Diana explains her decision ("Maybe (Next to Normal)") to Natalie outside, opening up to her daughter for the first time. She urges Natalie to go see Henry at the school dance.Natalie arrives and finds Henry standing alone ("Hey #3/Perfect for You (Reprise)"). Immediately struck by her beauty, Henry then calms Natalie's fears that she might end up crazy. They embrace and kiss.

At the same time, Diana finds Dan at home and tells him she's leaving him ("So Anyway"). She explains that he can't always be there to catch her. She needs to take a chance and deal with things on her own. She departs, leaving Gabe with Dan.

As Dan ponders how she could have left him ("I Am The One (Reprise)"), Gabe slowly approaches. Dan grows increasingly distraught until at last he faces the boy and calls him by his name for the first time: Gabriel.

Natalie returns home to find her father sitting alone in the dark, in tears. She comforts him, assures him they will be okay, and begins to turn the lights on in the house ("Light"). We come across Diana alone and still hurting, yet happy to be alive. We see Henry and Natalie the next day, committed come what may. We view Dan visiting Doctor Madden. Though he entered to get an update on Diana, he stays to talk about his own struggle. Finally, we see Gabriel arrive, watching over them all. Normal life continues.

← Back to Next to Normal
Cast Size: Small (Up to 10 performers)
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: None

Character Breakdown

Delusional, bipolar, and depressed. The sexiness of her yesterdays has only recently begun to soften. She is determined to make her family perfect but is tortured by a death in the family.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 45
Vocal range top: F#5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Diana & Dan's son. Dashing, athletic, and bright. He is a playful man and everything a mother could imagine.
Gender: male
Age: 18 to 21
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: B2
Diana's husband. He is handsome and genuine. Though a constant in Diana's tumultuous life, he has grown tired and weary of her antics.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 45
Vocal range top: B4
Vocal range bottom: Ab2
Diana & Dan's troubled daughter. An accomplished pianist and hardworking student, her struggles are exacerbated by her mother's behavior. She greatly admires Henry.
Gender: female
Age: 16 to 16
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Natalie's classmate. The all-around musician, philosopher, and slacker. He has an intoxicating capacity for sympathy and romance.
Gender: male
Age: 17 to 17
Vocal range top: B4
Vocal range bottom: G#2
Dr. Madden
Diana's handsome psychiatrist. Quite assured in his practice and considered somewhat of a rock star.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Full Song List
Next to Normal: Prelude
Next to Normal: Just Another Day
Next to Normal: Everything Else
Next to Normal: Who's Crazy/My Psychopharmacologist and I
Next to Normal: Perfect for You
Next to Normal: I Miss the Mountains
Next to Normal: It's Gonna Be Good
Next to Normal: He's Not Here
Next to Normal: You Don't Know
Next to Normal: I Am the One
Next to Normal: Superboy and the Invisible Girl
Next to Normal: I'm Alive
Next to Normal: Make Up Your Mind/ Catch Me I'm Falling
Next to Normal: I Dreamed a Dance
Next to Normal: There's a World
Next to Normal: I've Been
Next to Normal: Didn't I See This Movie?
Next to Normal: A Light in the Dark
Next to Normal: Wish I Were Here
Next to Normal: Song of Forgetting
Next to Normal: Hey #1
Next to Normal: Seconds and Years
Next to Normal: Better Than Before
Next to Normal: Aftershocks
Next to Normal: Hey #2
Next to Normal: You Don't Know (Reprise)
Next to Normal: How Could I Ever Forget?
Next to Normal: It's Gonna Be Good (Reprise)
Next to Normal: Why Stay?/A Promise
Next to Normal: I'm Alive (Reprise)
Next to Normal: The Break
Next to Normal: Make Up Your Mind/ Catch Me I'm Falling (Reprise)
Next to Normal: Maybe (Next to Normal)
Next to Normal: Hey #3/Perfect for You (Reprise)
Next to Normal: So Anyway
Next to Normal: I Am the One (Reprise)
Next to Normal: Light

Show History


Next To Normal is an original musical that began largely as a critique of the medical establishment and the medical treatment for mental illnesses like those Diana suffer from, but as the show continued to develop, the writers chose to focus on the family and their struggles instead.


Next To Normal began in 1998 as a 10-minute workshop sketch about a woman undergoing electroshock therapy, and its impact on her family, titled Feeling Electric. Book and lyrics writer Brian Yorkey brought the idea to composer Tom Kitt while both were at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, and the pair began to write together. This eventually led to the show receiving several NYC readings before debuting Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre from January 16 through March 16, 2008.

Following its Off-Broadway debut Next To Normal continued development in a regional premiere production at the Arena Stage in Crystal City, Virginia, from November 21, 2008, through January 18, 2009. With critical and audience reception highly favorable, the musical then leap to Broadway, starting previews at the Booth Theatre on March 27, 2009, before officially opening on April 15, 2009. The Broadway production later closed on January 16, 2011, after 21 previews and 733 regular performances.  The show was directed, as it had been Off-Broadway and at the Arena Stage, by Michael Greif with Sergio Trujillo doing the musical staging. The opening-night cast included Alice Ripley, J. Robert Spencer, Louis Hobson, Aaron Tveit, Jennifer Damiano, and Adam Chanler-Berat.

After its successful Broadway run, Next To Normal began its first national tour of North America and Canada at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California on November 23, 2010. The tour played in 16 cities in the U.S., ending in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on July 30, 2011. Alice Ripley reprised her Tony-award winning role as Diana.

The show has also gone on to a very successful regional and international life, playing in such cities as Milwaukee, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Tucson, Orlando, and Charleston, to name a few, as well as such foreign markets as Japan, Sweden, South Korea, Australia, Brazil, Israel, and Argentina.

Cultural Influence

  • About six weeks into the Broadway Production, Next To Normal made history by publishing an adapted version of the show over Twitter. Over 35 days, the serialized version of the show was published in short messages. The Twitter performance ended the morning of June 7, 2009, the morning of the 2009 Tony Awards.
  • On May 12, 2009, the Next To Normal Original Broadway Cast Recording was released by Sh-K-Boom Records.


  • When Next To Normal won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it became just the eighth musical in history to receive the honor. The previous musical to win the Pulitzer was Rent, in 1996, which was also directed by Michael Greif.
  • The musical set a box office record at the Booth Theatre for the week ending January 3, 2010, by grossing $550, 409 only to then beat that record a year later in its final week of performances, grossing $552, 653 for the week ending January 16, 2011.
  • Besides the awards it won, Next To Normal was nominated for 2 Drama Desk Awards and an additional 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical .
  • Next To Normal was originally slated to open in the Longacre Theatre on Broadway with a closed balcony to create a more intimate space, but when the smaller Booth Theatre became suddenly available, producers made the switch.
  • Since 1918 only eight musicals have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama - of those eight, six are MTI Musicals: Of Thee I Sing (1932), Fiorello! (1960), How To Succeed... (1962), Sunday In The Park With George (1985) Rent (1996) and Next To Normal (2010).

Critical Reaction

"No show on Broadway right now makes as direct a grab for the heart or wrings it as thoroughly as Next to Normal does... brave, breathtaking... a work of muscular grace and power." - New York Times

"...heart-melting& sensitively crafted show... something inordinately powerful in the music and the story, which have been meticulously woven together by the songwriting team of Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey... beautiful songs that get to the heart of this deceptively complex story -- and simply get to the heart." - Washington Post

"Truly the go-to show of the winter season." - Washington Times

"An honest, truthful story about a family with problems but a whole lot of love for each other& beautiful, artful, deeply moving." - Chicago Tribune




Under the terms and conditions of your organisation’s Performance Agreement, the following credits must appear on all advertising (including websites) relating to the production. Credits must be reproduced faithfully in accordance with the following layout. No alterations or deletions can be permitted unless stated below.
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NEXT TO NORMAL (Type Size 100%)

Music by

Tom Kitt (Type Size 50%)

Book & Lyrics by

Brian Yorkey (Type Size 50%)



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The following credit shall appear on the title page of all programs and in all advertising and publicity wherever and whenever the full production credits are given, in a type size not less than 25% of the type size used for the non-logo title of the Play, in substantially the following form:
Original Broadway Production Produced by David Stone,
 James L. Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo and Second Stage Theatre
The following credit shall appear only on the title page of all programs, in substantially the following form:
New York Premiere Produced by Second Stage Theatre, New York. February  2008
Carole Rothman, Artistic Director         Ellen Richard, Executive Director
'Next To Normal' was subsequently produced by Arena Stage in November 2008.
Developed at Village Theatre, Issaquah, WA (Robb Hunt, Executive Producer, Steve Tomkins, Artistic Director).
An earlier version was presented in the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Support for the development of "Next To Normal" was provided by the Jonathan Larson Foundation.
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