Mon, April 12, 2010 – The Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey musical Next to Normal was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. According to today’s Playbill article, the Pulitzer prize went to Next to Normal, because it “expands the scope of subject matter for musicals.” The musical concerns a family struggling with the effects of the mother’s bipolar disorder.
After an Off-Broadway run in 2008, Artistic Director Molly Smith invited Next to Normal to Arena Stage to allow its composers time to rework the piece. It closed here in January, 2009, and opened on Broadway in April, 2009, bringing with it the cast and revisions made in DC. The Arena Stage production received three Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Non-Resident Production and DCTS readers named it their Favorite Musical in the 2009 Audience Choice Awards. The Broadway production received eleven Tony nominations, and won three: Best Original Musical Score, Best Orchestrations ( tied with Billy Elliot) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical to Alice Ripley for her performance as Diana.
Lyricist Brian Yorkey sent DC Theatre Scene this comment: “Winning the Pulitzer was totally unexpected. We’ve been using the word “shocking.” I think both Tom and I see it as a huge testament to all the people who believed in a show that, on the face of it, was pretty unlikely. I was especially thinking yesterday about Molly Smith and David Dower and everyone at the amazing Arena Stage — if they hadn’t given us another production, another chance, if they hadn’t nurtured the show so beautifully, we wouldn’t be talking about this today.”
“Sometimes magic happens,” shares Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith in today’s press release from Arena Stage. “The creators of Next to Normal, Tom and Brian, made magic with an unconventional story told through the power of rock and roll. With the brilliant direction of Michael Greif, a cast led by the incomparable Alice Ripley and a dynamic producer in David Stone, the magic continues for thousands of audience members. Receiving the Pulitzer Prize in Drama is a testament to that magic. We at Arena Stage are proud to have been a part of the nurturing of this great work of theater by being the second production of its life. Bravo Tom and Brian!”
Our congratulations to the cast and creative team.
The Next to Normal win came as a complete surprise to New York critics – the Pulitzer nominations are never announced in advance. Since 1917, only seven other musicals have received the Drama prize: Rent (1996), Sunday in the Park with George (1985), A Chorus Line (1976), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1962), Fiorello! (1960), South Pacific (1950) and Of Thee I Sing (1932).
This year’s finalists for the 2010 prize were The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz; Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph; and Sara Ruhl’s In the Next Room or the vibrator play which will open the Woolly Mammoth season August 23rd.