Edelman: Not a Normal Week; KC Hosts Four New Broadway Musicals Starting Tuesday

It’s not every week that four new Broadway musicals come to town…

You’re more likely to find OKLAHOMA! in the park. But the six days starting this Tuesday (Monday’s “dark,” as we say in show biz) can boast just that.

The week gets started with a musical about a family dealing with their biopolar, prescription drug-addicted, possibly suicidal mom. No, MARY POPPINS doesn’t come to town til next year. The aforementioned musical is NEXT TO NORMAL (June 5-10 at the Kauffman Center) , an amazing journey through contemporary suburban life. Kids get high, Mom goes to therapy– and did I mention it was funny as hell? N2N won a passel of awards on Broadway, including the Tony for best music and book and the Pulitzer—one of only about 10 musicals to ever win that drama prize (RENT was the last one). Oh, and the show rocks—composer Tom Kitt scored Green Day’s Broadway entry, AMERICAN IDIOT and he wrote the music for BRING IT ON, which opens this summer in the Big Apple.

Definitely not your grandmother’s Broadway musical.

Day and date with N2N is another terrific musical, this one outdoors at Starlight. IN THE HEIGHTS took home the Best Musical Tony Award,  ingeniously rapping its way through life in Hispanic Washington Heights, NYC. This trials and tribulations tale of folks chasing the American Dream is moving, funny and always musical. HEIGHTS has probably the best dancing you’re going to see at Starlight all summer- so check it out.

Last week, I mentioned the Unicorn’s “after Broadway premier” of EVERYDAY RAPTURE, the smart, funny, poignant story of Topeka born and bred Sherie Rene Scott, who says good-bye to her uptight Mennonite family and hello to the bright lights of Sodom and Gomorrah Broadway. It’s a hoot; and Katie Gilchrist steps up as one of the best new musical theater actresses in town (adding to her already sizable rep as a fine dramatic performer). RAPTURE closes Sunday, June 10; so you’ve only got this weekend and next to check it out.

And way out in OP, the New Theatre Restaurant abandons old comedies for a slick new production of the Tony Award-nominated Best Musical 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE (now thru June 17). That title’s a mouthful—just like NTR’s tasty buffet—and it’s a good deal hipper than most dinner theater fare. Hats off to Richard Carrothers and Dennis Hennessy—celebrating 40 years producing great theater in our town—for assembling a fine local company, including KC newcomer Tina Maddigan, who starred in the original Broadway MAMMA MIA, and Scott and Lisa’s talented kid Sam Cordes. Even NTR’s obligatory TV star—in this case Richard (“Home Improvement”) Karn—proves himself an able thespian in this entertaining musical romp.

Four musicals and six days to catch em (matinees Saturday and Sunday for all but Starlight).  Save the plane fare, $350 a night NYC hotel and $25 a day parking and stay home for some great Broadway next week.

PHOTO: Diana (Deb Lyons) and her husband Dan (Jonathan Rayson) celebrate the birthday of their son in Theater League’s presentation of  NEXT TO NORMAL.

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