Next to Normal, the critically acclaimed musical about mental illness, comes to the Palace Theatre this week for 16 performances through June 19. Written by Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics), the story focuses on a suburban mom (played by Alice Ripley, reprising her Tony Award-winning Broadway performance) with increasingly severe bipolar disorder and a history of hallucinations. Not heavy enough for you? Wait till they get to the parts about drug abuse, suicide, and the ethics of psychiatric treatment. Along the way, keep your eyes and ears peeled for telling references to The Catcher in the Rye, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf — all additional evidence that we aren't dealing with the von Trapp family here and that happy endings may be in short supply. Ticket prices range from $10 to $75. Get them at 216-241-6000 or online at playhousesquare.org. The Palace Theatre is at 1615 Euclid Ave. at Playhouse Square. — Elaine T. Cicora
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