**** (out of 5 stars)
This show fucking rocks. This ultra-modern pop/rock musical about a family dealing with mental illness is funny, moving, engaging, happy, sad,.... i could go on... edgy, cool, heartbreaking, uplifting. Tom Kitt's score is so fresh and straight-up listenable. It's dead on when having to musicalize an emotional breakdown or an argument or a memory. The cast is uniformly ideal. Beyond the obligatory kick-ass voices, they're all acting the hell out of the material. Alice Ripley just may snag her first Best Actress Tony (registered trademark!) for her beautiful work as sick mommy. I kept thinking about Falsettos as I was watching this production. Though their respective core issues are somewhat specific (homosexuality and AIDS/mental illness) both productions, through the depth of the characters and relationships, and the bright, succinct personality of their scores, transcend into that layer of universality where any audience member can find a great deal to relate to. If you haven't noticed, I've got lots of good things to say about Next To Normal. GO.