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8 more things I’ve learned from Berlin’s Next to Normal

(after re-visiting this production) Read my original 10 things I’ve learned from Berlin’s Next to Normal here: English / Deutsch Here come the new 10 things I’ve learned – in no particular order…..

1. Chemistry between folks is EVERYTHING! I’d rather not comment any further on this one, but boy! This Natalie I saw last Friday (which wasn’t Devi-Ananda Dahm as on opening night, but the other Natalie Sophia Euskirchen) got some serious skills and intensity! And then again – chemistry!

2. Advertising something the right way is so important. You simply cannot imagine how often I heard “Do they sing?” or “Is that with people singing?” or “Wait….that’s a MUSICAL?!”. That might be happening because Ithe Renaissance Theater isn’t normally a place for straight musicals – which also might be the reason the production turned out the way it is. It’s for small-ish revues with songs in them, evenings with songs (“Liederabend”) and it’s for plays with kind of famous-ish actors. The people sitting next to me went home during intermission after he was like “Wait….it’s a Musical!?” right before curtain, probably when he spotted the band. Plus the theatre was half empty on a Friday night.

3. Musical Directing is a serious thing when it comes to a musical. You really should do that. It’s not always “The loudest one wins”.

4. Large groups of middle aged women on some kind of “Ladies’ Night Excursion” are NOT a good idea as audience members. Right after “Just another day” which Diana has her meltdown after juggeling (not literally, though!) all these breakfast supplies including Cornfalkes one of these ladies said – very loud and clear: “And where’s the milk?” And probably thought it was super-mega-funny. And I was like: Is this your problem right now?

5. People grow. Not literally. I mean Dennis Hupka as Gabe was good(man – haha!) on opening night, but now after 1.5 months of performances he owns this. Also Jan-Philipp Rekeszus as Henry was super cool and again….this chemistry with the Nathalie of the night….During “A Promise” I usually am more interested in the story of Diana and Dan, but they made it their story, all about them, the youth, about giving a story a different turn. So: Yay, young people!

6. One thing I’ve come across a lot in my life as a theatre person focussing on musical theatre when talking to people mostly dealing with plays and/or performance only, was them saying: “You know, these actors, singers, whatever – when singing they look not natural. They look like they are just passing various stations they were told. They are weird.” Luckily I think the training of young singers for musical theatre of any kind as somehow evolved in the direction of acknowledging the acting part of musical theatre. Right now in this production of Next to Normal there are two actors with no (not to much) musical theatre background. Guntbert Warns (whom I’ve talked about in the last article…) and Matthias Freihof who is subbing for Felix Martin as Dianas doctors until the end of the week. The funny thing is, that these two usually do all these singers’ cliché poses much more than those who are actually trained singers.🙂 – on that note: Good job, singers!

7. I realized once again that this whole story/musical itself – at least to me – evolves around a line Dan sings pretty late during the first part: in “You don’t know” he sings Can you tell me what it is you’re afraid of? and btw. I also really LOVE the German version of this line (“Kannst du sagen, was es ist, das dir Angst macht?”). Not being able to talk about things is the key to most of the things dealt with in this show and apparently it is something Nathalie learned at home (not really talking about problems and thoughts, but rather shut people out), which causes all these numbers titled “Hey” in the second act sung by Henry who refuses to be shut out. When this line (“Can you tell me….”) works, when you get the urge to make things kind of alright, when you are touched by this line – the whole production is going to work.

8. I’m still not over most of the things I’ve pointed out right after seeing it on opening night. I still get really worked up about certain things. And by really I mean REALLY!

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