Next To Normal: Abridged


                               NEXT TO NORMAL ABRIDGED
                 A "Broadway Abridged" Pill That Melts In Your Mouth
                    [WARNING: MAY CONTAIN NUTS.  ALSO, SPOILERS.]
                                                          By Gil Varod






            SCENE: A SERIES OF POP-ART PANELS AND POLES THAT JOIN TO
            CREATE A MULTI-LEVEL... UM... STRIP CLUB?


                                   Enter exactly what you wish your kid
                                   would have looked like if he GREW UP
                                   instead of DYING AS A BABY.


                                   MALE EYE CANDY 
            Hi mom, I'm your SPOOKY ANTAGONIST SON, and I'm sorry I'm
            "home late", wink wink.  I'll just pretend I'm ACTUALLY HERE,
            because didn't that work so well in PROOF?


                                   Enter a graduate from the MARY LOUISE
                                   PARKER SCHOOL OF CRAZY EYES.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
                          (for some reason opening and
                           closing her fist over and over
                           again, one finger at a time)
            THAT OKAY, BECAUSE ALICE RIPLEY GOING TÜ HAVE SEX WITH YÜR
            FATHER!


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            I'm *so* glad I know that.
                          (to audience)
            You can tell that I'm a hip, modern high school teenager
            because, duh, I roll my eyes at everything while being dryly
            sarcastic and cursing too much!
                          (rolls eyes)
            Ffffffuck.


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Get to school daughter, because your mother is CRAZY and I
            never understand WHAT SHE'S TALKING ABOUT. She keeps saying
            crazy things like:


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ALICE RIPLEY KEEP CAVE CLEAN.  YÜ GO OUT, GET FIRE.


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Just crazy!  Sigh, our musical's so important.


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            Dad, *duh* she's saying she'll be homemaker while you head
            off to work.  
                          (rolls eyes)
            Right Mom?  Fffffuck.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
                          (making sandwiches, wasting
                           away 8 loaves of bread a week)
            ME NO PAY ATTENTION BECAUSE ME CRAZY.  
            ALSO, ME QUESTIONABLE SUBCONSCIOUS TÜ BUSY IMAGINING ME DEAD
            CHILD UPSTAIRS TAKING SHOWER.


                                   MALE EYE CANDY 
                          (Standing in underwear on top
                           level of set.  For real.)
            Hi there!






            SCENE: A DOCTOR'S OFFICE THAT IS MADE OUT TO LOOK LIKE A
            STRIP CLUB, BUT WITH THE LIGHTING FROM "SPRING AWAKENING".


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
                          (enters)
            I'm here to establish that you're taking pills.
                          (exits)






            SCENE: A DIFFERENT LEVEL OF SAME STRIPCLUB (PERHAPS THE VIP
            SECTION?) WITH THE LIGHTING FROM "PASSING STRANGE".


                                   LIGHTING DESIGNER      
                                   KEVIN ADAMS
            They told me that if I stole the lighting from my last two
            "hip/edgy" shows, that I'd get to keep the purchase price of
            the bulbs! :D


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Kids, we're going to play a new game today.  It's called
            GUESS THE LAZY LYRIC!  
            One of us (usually me) will sing a lyric missing the last
            word so that you at home can guess what OBVIOUS RHYME is
            coming next!  
            We'll do it slowly enough so that the rhyme screams out at
            you, just like while you're watching the REAL show.  Ready?
                          (sings)
            WHO'S CRAZY
            A HUSBAND OR WIFE?
            WHO'S CRAZY
                          (a pause so you can guess what
                           word ends the next line)
            TO LIVE THEIR WHOLE ______?


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            MY PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGIST AND I...
            IT'S LIKE AN ODD ROMANCE
            INTENSE AND VERY INTIMATE...
                          (pause: can you guess?)
            WE DÜ OUR ________?


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            REMEMBERING WHEN SHE WAS 
            TWENTY AND BRILLIANT AND BOLD!
            AND I WAS SO YOUNG AND SO DUMB...
                          (another pregnant pause)
            AND NOW I AM _______.
                          (to Audience)
            OK add up your score.  Did you get all of them?  Because if
            you did, you win a FREE PICTURE of Alice Ripley making  
            SCARY-AS-SATAN faces that you can hang over your bed!


                                   YOU, THE WINNER
                          (absolutely horrified)


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            IT LIKE DREAMCATCHER, BUT MORE ALICE RIPLEY SMASH ALICE
            RIPLEY KILL!






            SCENE: PIANO ROOM THAT LOOKS LIKE A STRIP CLUB.


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            You should stay away from me, romantic male lead.  I'm very
                          (rolls eyes)
            FFFFFUCKED UP!


                                   OTHER YOUNG BOY IN THE SHOW
            Well I SMOKE POT, which in this musical apparently passes for
            being FUCKED UP too.  We should date. 
            Also: I've been SITTING BEHIND YOU IN CLASS for SIX YEARS
            while eyeing you.
            Also: I love you.


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            Yeah, that's not coming on too strong at all.  Let's
            definitely date, because you like me for some reason, and I
            find attractive the fact that you're borderline stalkerish.  
            Also: the word Ffffffuck.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ALICE RIPLEY WATCH SCENE BETWEEN DAUGHTER AND BORING
            CHARACTER, REMIND ALICE RIPLEY OF ALICE RIPLEY YOUNG.  ALICE
            RIPLEY SING "I WANT" SONG ABOUT THIS?


                                   DIRECTOR MICHAEL GREIF
            Hmm.  I think we're probably too IMPORTANT and SMART a
            MUSICAL, so let's treat the audience like IDIOTS just in case
            they're missing the PARALLELS.


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER IN A   
                                   HALF-ASSED ATTEMPT TO DRESS
                                   LIKE HE'S YOUNGER
                          (enters)
            Hey, Alice Ripley, let's marry.
                          (leaves)


                                   DIRECTOR MICHAEL GREIF
            That'll do.


                                   Alice Ripley sings while pouring all of
                                   the pills down the toilet.  


                                   She has learned a valuable lesson that
                                   PILLS ARE EVIL and they never help
                                   anyone at all!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ME DEAD, DEAD, DEAD SON!


                                   ...or maybe not.


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            My ffffffucking brother died before I was born!  But we're
            not going to say how yet!


                                   AUDIENCE
            Since they kept it from us, I can't wait until ACT TWO when
            I'll surely find out how he died!  I bet it had something to
            do with ALICE RIPLEY'S MENTAL DISORDER!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Alice Ripley, we are having an ANGRY ARGUMENT!  So I'm going
            to yell at you via song, pausing awkwardly during the spaces
            in between lyrics like I don't know what to do with myself.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ALICE RIPLEY ANGRY AT YOU TÜ FOR BEING... 
            üm... 
            SUPPORTIVE HÜSBAND!  
            FOR REVENGE, ALICE RIPLEY TRÜST MIRAGE OF DEAD SON INSTEAD!



                                   Alice Ripley and her Imaginary Son grab
                                   each other a bunch and hold each other.


                                   TONY AWARDS WATCHERS
            Oh... so this *isn't* a musical about a woman torn between
            her husband and an affair with a younger man.... 
            Coulda fooled me.







            SCENE: DOCTOR'S OFFICE-SLASH-GENTLEMEN'S CLUB.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            DOCTOR, ME FEEL WORSE THAN LAST SCENE.  WHY-FOR?


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
            I'm a different doctor character now.  You can tell because I
            took off my glasses.

                          (sings all crazy like)
            So your last doctor diagnosed you as a nice vague mix of
            BIPOLAR and SCHIZOPHRENIC. 


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
                          (has tiny, creepy orgasms when
                           he does so)
            YES, THAT COVER GENERAL MENTAL DISEASE GAMÜT!


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
                          (never sings crazy-like again)
            Well, according to my notes here,
            if your son had never died, none of your neuroses would have
            ever been triggered.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ALICE RIPLEY FIND THIS VERY CONVENIENT FOR PLOT.


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
            My very professional doctorly advice--and your VALUABLE
            LESSON today--is that you should LEARN HOW TO LET GO OF YOUR
            SON. 


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
                          (rolling onstage via her eyes)
            Wow, what a *genius* doctor.  Pfft.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            LET GO SON?  WHY IT TAKE FULL SEVENTEEN YEARS OF THERAPY TÜ
            REACH THIS CONCLÜSION?


                                   MALE EYE CANDY 
            Hey, there's all these stripper poles around here, does
            anybody mind if I swing on them and gyrate in most of my
            songs?


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ONLY ALICE RIPLEY CAN SEE SON GYRATE...
            MAYBE DEAD SON TINY BIT OEDIPAL?






            SCENE: SO, DID *YOUR* HIGH SCHOOL LOOK LIKE A PLACE WHERE
            PEOPLE TAKE OFF THEIR CLOTHES FOR MONEY?


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            I have decided that MOZART is too RIGID, and that CREATIVE
            IMPROVISATION is more IMPORTANT!


                                   OTHER YOUNG BOY IN THE SHOW
            Whatever.







            SCENE: THE SAME DOCTOR'S TITTY BAR.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            I THOUGHT SHOW ABOUT ME CRAZY.  WHY IS SHOW NOW ABOUT DEAD
            SON?  ALICE RIPLEY CONFÜSED.


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
            That's cause the pills aren't helping.  Which is good,
            because if eventually finding the right combination did seem
            to fix that you're CRAZY like it sometimes does in real life,
            this musical would be suddenly over.


                                   Doctor does exactly the sort of
                                   PROFESSIONAL HYPNOSIS that you used to
                                   do in summer camp!


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
            Now, imagine you're walking down a long flight of stairs,
            then down a hall, then opening a door that you see. 


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ALICE RIPLEY SEE DAUGHTER, WHO ALICE RIPLEY MAKE BABY OF TÜ
            DEAL WITH DEAD DEAD SON.


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
            Ah, maybe you should finally go clear out your dead son's
            bedroom?  Then we could do the scene where your son is in 
            a tuxedo, and you share a rather questionable slow-dance 
            with him as he warmly kisses your hand.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            DOCTOR THINK QUESTIONABLE SLOW DANCE FIX MOURNING?
                          (slits wrists)


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
            Apparently not.  J-ROB!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
                          (entering)
            Sorry, I was busy washing INVISIBLE BLOOD off this chair.


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
            Well, I'm going to suggest ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY, while
            being very crafty and misleading about how totally-not
            problematic the side effects are.  Cause of the lesson 
            that DOCTORS ARE EVIL.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            NO, ME WON'T DÜ THAT!  AARRGGGGHHH!! GRR AGRH GGRRR ARGH
            ARGH!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Let me convince you with a sweet, calming and relaxing song.
                          (singing)
            TAKE THIS CHANCE CAUSE IT MAY BE OUR LAST
            TO BE FREE, TO LET GO OF THE _____
            TAKE MY HAND, AND LET ME TAKE YOUR HEART
            KEEP YOU FAR FROM WHAT KEEPS US A-_____
                          (pause)
            AND SHOCK YOURSELF WITH OVER ONE HUNDRED 
            PULSING WATTS OF LIVE ELECTRICITY....
            UM...
            FOR OUR LOVE!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            OH.  OKAY.  ALICE RIPLEY DÜ IT.
                          (signs form)
                          (is electrocuted using the
                           worst "electrocution lighting"
                           ever)


                                   LIGHTING DESIGNER      
                                   KEVIN ADAMS
            Ah, the old "Bitch of Living" bulbs still work great!






            SCENE: A *NON*-STRIPCLUB CLUB.  WHICH IS THEMED TO A
            STRIPCLUB.


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
                          (taking handfuls of pills at
                           once, but definitely not going
                           to the emergency room for 
                           overdosing or anything)
            I'm stealing my mother's medicine, but ha ha, I'm still
            against pot!


                                   OTHER YOUNG BOY IN THE SHOW
            And you're still dating me?


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
                          (bumpin' and grindin')
            Dating you, and NEVER KISSING YOU.  
            Also, POLE-DANCING!  


                                   AUDIENCE
            Whoa whoa whoa... isn't she like SIXTEEN in real life?






            SCENE: WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR MEMORY, EVEN YOUR *OWN HOUSE*
            STARTS TO LOOK KIND OF LIKE A STRIP CLUB.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ME LÜSE MEMORY.  
            ME AT UNLIKELY WORST-CASE SCENARIO OF ELECTRIC MEMORY LOSS.  
            ME CAN'T REMEMBER ALL IMPORTANT LESSONS ME LEARN IN ACT ONE 
            OF IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT MÜSICAL. 
            ME CAN'T REMEMBER OWN DAUGHTER!  
            ME CAN'T REMEMBER A WHOLE PERSON!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Don't worry, just remember this universal fluffy truth: 
            Memories Don't Die!
            ...unless you electrocute them to a crisp.  I guess we
            learned the important lesson that ELECTRICITY IS EVIL.  


                                   COMPOSER TOM KITT
            Can everyone now sing a song all about REMEMBERING?


                                   They do.


                                   LYRICIST BRIAN YORKEY
            Um... now can you sing a song about ITEMS we remember?


                                   They do.


                                   COMPOSER TOM KITT
            Jeez what else... Oh, in song, can you recount a whole bunch
            of TIMES THAT ALICE WAS CRAZY so the audience knows she was
            crazy, in case they weren't sure?


                                   That happens.  Finally:


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Gee Alice, you're getting better--almost as good as you were
            in the end of Act One!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            WHOLE POINT OF NOW IS GET ALICE RIPLEY ONLY AS SANE AS ACT
            ONE?  THAT NOT COMFORTING.


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            Wow, a Rock Musical with a way less coherent second act than
            its first?  
                          (rolls eyes)
            Apparently RENT *is* still influential!






            SCENE: STRIPPERCIZE CLASSES IN PHYS ED.



                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            We're breaking up now.


                                   OTHER YOUNG BOY IN THE SHOW
            BREAKING UP!!!!  But I never even got to kiss y--


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            THIS IS NOT UP FOR DISCUSSION!  IF YOU COME UP WITH A BETTER
            THING TO HAPPEN IN ACT TWO, YOU LET ME KNOW!  ROLLEYES!


                                   OTHER YOUNG BOY IN THE SHOW
            ROLLEYES INDEED!  Why on earth do I like you, never mind
            *love* you?


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
                          (to other young boy)
            HMMM.  OTHER YOUNG BOY, YÜ REMIND ALICE RIPLEY OF SÜMEBODY.


                                   OTHER YOUNG BOY IN THE SHOW
            Why, because I'm roughly the same age as your son, even
            though I look nothing like you imagine him being?


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            WHAT?  NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  ME SON!!!


                                   EYE CANDY sets out a basket with all
                                   sorts of things that will REMIND Alice
                                   Ripley that HE EXISTS!  How
                                   antagonistic.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            NAAAGHH!  MÜAAAAAH! GRFF!


                                   MALE EYE CANDY 
            Yes, I am back and I'm being generally antagonistic still! 
            And until you SAY MY NAME, you won't get PAST MY DEATH, Alice
            Ripley!
                          (to audience)
            Got that?  She needs to SAY MY NAME TO DEAL WITH ME!  She
            does JUST THAT and she won't be crazy anymore!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
                          (suddenly kind of lucid)
            Oh son, Alice Ripley now remember everything!  Alice Ripley
            now remember the secretive way that yü died...


                                   AUDIENCE
            Oooooh here it is we're gonna learn how you killed him!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ...all because...


                                   AUDIENCE
            Yes... yes... yes...!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            OF AN INTESTINAL ISSÜE!


                                   AUDIENCE
            ...well boo.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY AND     
                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
                          (at the same time)
                          (because having parallels in
                           IMPORTANT MUSICALS are also
                           IMPORTANT!)
            We're angry at yü, men!


                                   OTHER YOUNG BOY IN THE SHOW
            Why are you angry at me, Jennifer?


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            Oh.  Not really sure.  Nevermind!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Why are you angry at me, Alice?


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            Because yü were terrible hüsband to Alice Ripley!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            What was terrible about me?


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            Alice Ripley dünno.  Yü always avoided talking about our dead
            son.  You didn't bring him üp single time in this müsical. 
            Always Alice Ripley did!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            That might be because I've moved on, and because he died
            sixteen years ago.


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ALICE RIPLEY DON'T CHÜÜSE TO INTERPRET IT THAT WAY!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            WELL I DO!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            WELL ALICE RIPLEY LEAVING!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            YEAH WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO GO?


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            TO LIVE WITH ALICE RIPLEY PARENTS!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            YOU WHAT?  YOU'VE NEVER EVEN MENTIONED THAT YOU HAVE
            LIVING PARENTS IN THE WORLD OF THIS MUSICAL!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ALICE RIPLEY CAN, AND ALICE RIPLEY WILL! 


                                   MALE EYE CANDY
            Apparently THAT was the solution to your mental illness all 
            along: don't deal with it and just run away.  
            You've learned a VALUABLE LESSON, Alice Ripley!



                                   ALICE RIPLEY
                          (starts to walk out the door)


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Wait... take Dead Son with you!  Don't leave him behind,
            transferring your delusions to me somehow!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            ALICE RIPLEY NOT TRANSFERRING ME DELUSIONS TO YÜ!  ALICE
            RIPLEY THINK BY ME LEAVING, YÜ FINALLY DEAL WITH HIS DEATH!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            Well that's not how I interpret that either!


                                   ALICE RIPLEY
            WE NEVER SHOULD HAVE GOT MARRIED--WE NO AGREE ON SHODDY
            INTERPRETATION OF ANYTHING!
                          (leaves)


                                   MALE EYE CANDY
                          (enters)
            Now I'm haunting *you*, Dad!


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
                          (finally revealing his name)
            Your name is Gabriel!  
            YOUR NAME IS GABRIEL!


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
                          (takes pills)
            It's a shame we'll never be a normal family, but I'm okay
            with that.  I will happily settle for a family that is NEXT
            TO NORMAL.


                                   Whee they said the musical's name!






            SCENE: AN EPILOGUE THAT DOESN'T HAVE THE MAIN CHARACTER IN IT
            AT *ALL*.


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
                          (to Doctor)
            Help me, Doctor.


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
            With finally grieving for your lost son?


                                   J. ROBERT SPENCER
            What?  No, that was like 20 years ago.  I need to schedule a
            session with you so you can help me understand why ME saying
            my son's name was the correct solution to the issue that
            ALICE couldn't say his name the whole musical.


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
            I need a session too, maybe you can tell me why the musical
            "had" to end at this particular point instead of, say, ten
            minutes earlier or later.  
            Or even with a scene where Alice Ripley sings to the audience 
            about where she's headed in life from here on.


                                   OTHER YOUNG BOY IN THE SHOW
            Yeah, are there pills you can recommend for highly
            unsatisfying endings?  
            And does my HMO cover them?


                                   DOCTOR CHARACTER
            Okay, I have you all down for Thursday at noon, one and two
            respectively.  And we can talk about that, as well as the
            TRUE moral of this very IMPORTANT MUSICAL, which is that
            EVERYBODY NEEDS THERAPY!


                                   OTHER YOUNG BOY IN THE SHOW
            Also, maybe that "love conquers all"?  Or maybe that was
            "love makes young people do stupid impregnating things".


                                   JENNIFER DAMIANO
                          (eyes falling out)
            I figured maybe our lesson was that "ONE FAMILY IS ABOUT TO
            FACE THE MUSIC" is a vague, terrible tagline.  
            Or maybe we learned to never use a logo that looks like 
            Ffffffffffff-


                                        BLACKOUT.
                                         
                                         
                                         
                                         
                                          


                                   LIGHTING DESIGNER      
                                   KEVIN ADAMS
                          (with flashlight)
            Sorry guys, my fault.  I guess that's what I learn from
            reusing so many old bulbs.

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