jonathan rayson


Next to Normal rehearses in Salt Lake City for Pioneer Theatre Company. The cast consists of Judy McClane (Mamma Mia!)as Diana, Jonathan Rayson (Little Shop of Horrors) as Dan, Ephie Aardema (Fiddler on the Roof tour) as Natalie, Matt Dengler (A Little Night Music) as Gabe, Ben Crawford (Shrek) as Dr. Madden, and Alex Brightman (Wicked) as Henry.

I went and saw Next to Normal tonight.

It was so…I honestly don’t have words. It was amazing. I made my mom go just because I thought it’d be a good show for her to see. She loved it, of course. It might’ve hit her pretty close because of her medical history, but nevertheless I think it was good for her.

I think the person who affected me the most was the actor playing Dan, the father (his name was Jonathan Rayson). His portrayal was so raw and heart-shattering that it was difficult for me to watch on more levels than one. Despite how tragic every character in the show is, I found myself in tears every time he began singing. My heart broke several times over for this man.

Another stand-out was Alex Brightman, who played Henry (the boyfriend). He was so warm and sweet that I couldn’t help but love the character. And I truly felt bad for everything he went through. Not to mention his voice.

And then, of course, was Judy McLane who played Diana. She was just…I mean, my god. I’d go as far to say that, at least vocally (since I’d never seen the show live until now) better than Alice Ripley. She brought this stripped down energy to Diana that I never thought could be there. Her voice was immaculate and she made me feel everything that the character was dealing with.

Overall, this show has been rocketed to one of my favorites. It’s dark and tragic, yes, but it does what it is meant to. It makes you feel. And that’s what I care about most in a show. I want to feel something. Whether that be joy, sorrow, anger, or pain depends on the show, but this made me feel most if not all of them.

If you haven’t looked up this show, please do so. It really is a wonderful piece of art.

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