Tag Archives: Trevor Dion Nicholas



Wyndham’s Theatre

NEXT TO NORMAL at Wyndham’s Theatre


“as close to extraordinary as is physically possible”

Many years ago, as a young father, I often interrupted my children’s playtime by asking what they were doing. They never thought it an intrusion – always happy to answer. One particular day, in response to the question my daughter responded with “I’m trying to be normal”. Five minutes later she had completely forgotten the conversation (possibly the ice cream van, or the urgent matter of shouting at her little brother took precedence), but it lingered with me for some time. I think I had answered in my usual flippant way with something like “join the club” or “aren’t we all?”. I never thought of bursting into song. Decades later the perfect answer is delivered to me from the West End stage.

“I don’t need a life that’s normal
That’s way too far away
But something next to normal
Would be okay
Yes, something next to normal
That’s the thing I’d like to try
Close enough to normal to get by”

When Eleanor Worthington-Cox delivers the lines towards the end of the second act in Tom Kitt’s (Music) and Brian Yorkey’s (book and lyrics) astonishing musical, there’s not a dry eye in the house, yet there’s also a collective feeling of elation that ripples through the auditorium. “Next to Normal” obviously addresses the subject of mental health but it never feels that way. The message (if there is one) or the answer (there isn’t one) runs subliminally beneath a musical that soars to the heights.

Worthington-Cox is Natalie, the daughter to Diana (Caissie Levy) who grapples with her bipolar disorder. In principle it is Diana’s story. A heart-wrenching one. In reality it is everyone’s story. Levy is simply stunning in the lead role, capturing with undiluted precision and sympathy all the highs and lows of her roller-coaster condition, guiding us through the funny moments to the achingly sad and tragic. Levy is surrounded by five other lead players, for this is an ensemble piece. Husband Dan (the magnificent Jamie Parker) battles to understand, often picking up the pieces and trying to get through another day. Initially it all seems normal. The angst-ridden daughter and the waif-like son, Gabe (Jack Wolfe), getting ready for school. But how quickly it all unravels – until the bombshell arrives quite early on. It won’t be long before the whole capital knows the twist, but until then I’m keeping mum.

The medical profession is not so much made fun of, but scrutinised with comic genius by the writers. Trevor Dion Nicholas plays two different doctors – the aptly named Dr. Madden and Dr. Fine – lightening the mood with darkness each time he arrives on stage, littering the space with pill boxes, black humour, dubious cures or just the aura of a Rock God. Another subplot is supplied by the blossoming relationship between Natalie and school chum Henry (Jack Ofrecio) which mirrors the elder couple’s in a frighteningly authentic, cyclical way. Jack Wolfe, of course, is sublimely shadowy as Gabe. Whilst his character is fighting to be seen and not forgotten, there is no denying that the beauty of his voice can be heard near and far and the tones will be remembered for a long time.

The musical will linger in the memory for even longer. The score is magical. One moment light and catchy, another aching and haunting. The manic ‘It’s Gonna be Good’ sits comfortably alongside Levy’s aching rendition of the soaring ‘I Miss the Mountains’. Vulnerability and despair, heartache and longing, love and guilt have all never been served better in song. Interspersed between the numbers are some brilliantly succinct one-liners that sum up decades of medical hypothesis. The fact that they are dressed in cloaks of humour add poignancy to the already impassioned performances. ‘Most people who think they are happy haven’t thought about it enough’

Nobody has to think hard at all to realise that “Next to Normal” is as close to extraordinary as is physically possible. ‘There will be light’, we are told in the uplifting closing number. But it is far from a cloying sentiment, as a tangible question mark still hangs in the air. And for the moment, the light is refracted through tears – of sadness and of joy. Heart-breaking, heart-warming and life-affirming, this musical is more than a must see.

NEXT TO NORMAL at Wyndham’s Theatre

Reviewed on 26th June 2024

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Marc Brenner



Previously reviewed at this venue:

KING LEAR | ★★★★ | October 2023
OKLAHOMA! | ★★★★ | February 2023
LIFE OF PI | ★★★★★ | November 2021



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WhatsOnStage today announce that Simon Lipkin and Vikki Stone will present the 17th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards in the sold-out concert at the Prince of Wales Theatre on 19 February.

Also confirmed today is the full line up of performers with Gary Trainor and company singing ‘Teacher’s Pet’ from School of Rock – currently running at the New London Theatre; Tyrone Huntley performing ‘Heaven on their Minds’ from Jesus Christ Superstar – returning to the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre this summer;  Joanna Riding performing ‘Scarborough’ from The Girls accompanied by Gary Barlow – currently in preview at the Phoenix Theatre; Amber Riley and Liisi LaFontaine performing ‘Listen’ from Dreamgirls – currently running at the Savoy Theatre; Trevor Dion Nicholas and Dean John-Wilson performing ‘Somebody’s Got Your Back’ from Aladdin – running at the Price Edward Theatre; Ria Jones singing ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ from Sunset Boulevard ahead of a new national tour; and the company of Half a Sixpence performing ‘Flash, Bang, Wallop’- currently running at the Noël Coward Theatre.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child leads the field with 11 nominations – the first time a play has dominated the nominations. It is in the running for Best Actor in a Play for Jamie Parker, Best Supporting Actress in a Play nominations for both Noma Dumezweni and Poppy Miller and Best Supporting Actor in a Play nominations for Anthony Boyle and Paul Thornley, Best New Play, Best Direction nod for John Tiffany, Best Set Design for Christine Jones, Katrina Lindsay for Best Costume Design, Finn Ross and Ash Woodward for Best Video Design and Neil Austin for Lighting Design. Leading the musical theatre categories is Half a Sixpence, with 8 nominations including Best New Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Charlie Stemp.