Next to Normal | Review

Julia Rank
Thursday, June 27, 2024

The West End transfer of the rock musical starring Caissie Levy and Jack Wolfe is currently playing at Wyndham's Theatre

(Images credit: Marc Brenner)
(Images credit: Marc Brenner)

One of 10 musicals to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey’s 2008 rock musical Next to Normal finally received its UK premiere at the Donmar Warehouse last year and has now transferred to Wyndham’s Theatre, one of the West End’s more intimate venues. The show received three Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, but left the Olivier Awards empty-handed despite four nominations.

Michael Longhurst’s production is presented with admirable clarity and sensitivity. The show follows the Goodman family, all of whom are exhausted due to a tragic loss in their past, triggering wife and mother Diana’s bipolar disorder. The demanding material is tackled head-on but the characters’ suffering never feels gratuitous.

There are outstanding vocals from the entire cast that serve the character and music throughout, with no showing off vocal prowess for the sake of it. It’s also rare to experience a rock musical in which nearly all the lyrics are audible (credit is due to sound designer Tony Gayle).  

In the lead role of Diana, Caissie Levy gives a performance of tremendous empathy, in which she’s just as compelling in the quieter moments as she is in the showpieces. Levy is perfectly matched by Jamie Parker as Diana’s husband Dan, neither a saviour nor a hindrance but tragically human and aware of his shortcomings in being able to support his wife under such challenging circumstances.

Jack Wolfe's (a Critics’ Circle Winner for Best Newcomer) Gabe, the son with whom Diana has an unhealthy and co-dependant relationship, is an angel-faced rock star with charisma to burn. Eleanor Worthington-Cox is quietly heartbreaking as the highly strung daughter Natalie, who hasn’t received any real care from either of her parents in years and has essentially had to bring herself up. The cast is completed by Trevor Dion Nicholas as Diana’s two doctors and Jack Ofrecio in the underdeveloped role of Natalie’s boyfriend Henry.

There are no easy solutions here and it ends on a note of hope because that’s the only way to keep going. For me, personally, it’s a show that’s easier to admire than love but being able to experience challenging contemporary Musical Theatre in the West End is always something to be celebrated, and this production is very much alive and thriving.​

Jack Ofrecio, Eleanor Worthington-Cox, Jamie Parker and Jack Wolfe

Trevor Dion Nicholas, Jamie Parker and Caissie Levy

Jack Wolfe and Caissie Levy

Jamie Parker, Jack Wolfe, Eleanor Worthington-Cox and Caissie Levy

Eleanor Worthington-Cox and Jack Ofrecio

Production credits

Next to Normal by Tom Kitt (music), Brian Yorkey (lyrics, book)

Wyndham’s Theatre, London, 26 June 2024

Starring Caissie Levy, Jamie Parker, Jack Wolfe, Eleanor Worthington-Cox, Trevor Dion Nicholas, Jack Ofrecio

Directed by Michael Longhurst

Next to Normal runs until 21 September 2024 – for more information and tickets, visit