Mood Swings

Broadway yields many surprises, and one of the biggest in recent years was Next to Normal, a musical about a bipolar woman and the havoc she wreaks on her family. The difficult subject matter might not sound like fodder for a musical, but the tough yet accessible treatment of the topic combined with an industrial, three-tiered set and a contemporary score that rocks the material, à la Spring Awakening, netted Next to Normal a rare Pulitzer Prize for a musical. Still, the biggest reason to see the show, which opens tonight at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, is the amazing performance by Alice Ripley, who is reprising the role she claimed on Broadway from the start: Diana, the afflicted mother and wife around whom the story revolves. “Alice Ripley goes out and tears her heart out on stage every night,” Genevieve Miller of Denver Center Attractions says of the star, who won a Tony in 2009 for her efforts.

The curtain goes up tonight at 8 p.m. at the Ellie, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, with performances continuing daily except Mondays through January 16. For tickets, $20 to $95, visit www.denvercenter.org or call 303-893-4100.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 4. Continues through Jan. 16, 2011

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd