I've been raving about the musical Next to Normal for the past year to anyone who will listen, although perhaps not as much as Passing Strange. I've seen it twice on Broadway and the cast recording has been in my car's CD player for months. It's that good. And unusual - it's the story of a family devastated by the mother's bipolar disorder, told almost entirely through song. Not your typical feel-good musical. Frankly, it's the only musical to leave me with wet eyes - both times I saw it.
So it's a real surprise to see it announced as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama today, all the more so because it wasn't even a finalist in the category. The jury put it into contention on its own and selected it as the winner. And it deserves all the acclaim it has won, including this award.
Here's a clip of Alice Ripley as the mother, singing about how unhappy she is on medication because it takes away the manic highs in addition to the lows:
Another clip, this one from the Tony Awards, a medley of songs featuring the parents and their son:
The Pulitzer went to Brian Yorkey, book and lyrics, and Tom Kitt, music. Kitt was the composer on two other recent musicals I loved, Cry-Baby the Musical and High FIdelity. Both were slaughtered by the NYT critic Ben Brantley, inspiring a previous rant of mine. Fortunately he didn't decide to kill this masterpiece.