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Suburban Madness in Milwaukee Rep's 'Next to Normal'

Dec. 7, 2011
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Milwaukee Rep Artistic Director Mark Clements continues to bring his love of musicals to the stage of the Quadracci Powerhouse with a production of Next to Normal. Clements began his tenure at the Rep last season with a well-received production of Cabaret.

On the surface, the Rep's choice of a contemporary musical seems like a safe bet. Next to Normal debuted off-Broadway in 2008. And while it doesn't have the long history of some of New York's other beloved musicals, it has won dozens of awards—and boasts the Tony Awards' official stamp of approval. Unlike some commercial choices, however, there is great depth to this drama about bipolar disorder, drug abuse and the ethics of modern psychiatry. It's a rock musical drama about upper-middle-class suburban madness.

On a purely commercial level, there's a subversive element to presenting a musical like this for the people it's about—an acclaimed musical journey that casts a light on the imperfect shadows at the heart of a suburban America inhabited by much of its audience. Clements' choices have clashed with the more conservative edge of the Rep's subscriber base before, so it'll be interesting to see how they react to this one.

The Milwaukee Rep's production of Next to Normal runs through Jan. 15 at the Quadracci Powerhouse. For ticket reservations, call 414-224-9490.

Theater Happenings

  • The Sunset Playhouse presents its spirit of the holidays Dec. 12-13 with Holiday Pops. Elm Grove's venerable community theater company presents local stage talent, including Eric Ebert and Karen Estrada, performing classic holiday tunes. For ticket reservations, call 262-782-4430.
  • Those looking for something slightly more irreverent need look no further than Off the Wall Theatre's staging of Holiday Punch. Dale Gutzman's holiday spoof show runs Dec. 16-31. For ticket reservations, call 414-327-3552.


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