January 5, 2009

J. Robert Spencer Shines in Next to Normal!

January 5th, 2009

Bobby Spencer
Bobby Spencer at Arena Stage stage door with Howard Tucker

Right before Christmas, we had the pleasure of seeing Bobby Spencer starring in an amazing piece of theatre—Next to Normal at Arena Stage in Crystal City, Virginia!

Not only did the Tech Half and I experience an incredible evening watching Bobby and this outstanding cast, but also in the audience were JBB Fantastic fans Pamela Singer and her sister Jana, along with Howard Tucker and his friend, Priscilla. Talk about the stars being in alignment!

Back in August, during his last JBB Exclusive Interview, Bobby was ecstatic about the upcoming Next to Normal production!

I’m very optimistic about Next to Normal. This piece is completely original—it’s emotional, heartbreaking, uplifting, and chaotic. It’s going to be an amazing piece of theatre—it’s not full of fluff. I think audiences want to be challenged. It is an emotional journey with a tremendous cast with music by Tom Kitt and a book by Brian Yorkey, and it’s directed by Michael Greif, who’s a fantastic director–one of the best.

Bobby’s description of this production was right on the money!! This was quite the departure from the role of Nick Massi. Our “Ringo” was phenomenal in the role of husband and father Dan Goodman in Next to Normal!! As Dan, Bobby attempts to hold his family together by maintaining his own sanity. Many of you may have heard Bobby’s powerful rock vocals at “Rockers on Broadway” and other events, but this was my first time seeing Bobby outside of playing one of the Four Seasons. This guy ROCKS! Never will I forget Dan’s powerful declaration as the loyal husband in “I Am the One”!

Next to Normal is an incredibly poignant and heartfelt rock musical about the impact of mental illness on the Goodman family. Wife and mother Diana, played by the fantastic Alice Ripley, has battled depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety for most of her married life. The musical follows her battle and its impact that mental illness has had on Diane and her family. Also terrific in the production are Natalie (Jennifer Damiano), the overachieving adolescent daughter with the incredible voice and son Gabe (Aaron Tveit), who has an eerie presence and wonderful vocals!

Critics have raved about Next to Normal and Bobby’s superb performance in the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Alexandria Times, and many other papers. The audience also approved–giving the cast a wonderful standing ovation at the finale! Next to Normal plays at Arena Stage through January 18!

It was wonderful to see Bobby after the performance and we had a blast watching his imitation of his son Geddy dancing and singing to “Sherry”! Congratulations to Bobby on this amazing production!


  1. So great to get a fan’s account of “Next to Normal”! Still crossing my fingers Bobby and this great show will be on Broadway!

    Comment by Karen — January 5, 2009 @ 11:37 pm

  2. Great to hear how well Bobby’s doing. From the looks of that gift, I’d guess that was an improptu baby shower. I wonder if that’s a stage door first? How wonderful that you could all be together and show Bobby the JB love!

    Comment by Catherine — January 6, 2009 @ 9:22 am

  3. Terrific show! My family and I really connected with J. Robert Spencer’s portrayal of Dan in Next to Normal. Definitely worth a second trip to the theater next week.

    Comment by Rich — January 7, 2009 @ 8:26 am

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