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How One Musical Challenged the Way Mental Illness is Shown

iperrone April 4, 2017 66

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Musical theatre has always been a big part of my relationship with my sister Francesca – but a few years ago we discovered a show that would alter how we saw theatre as a medium and ultimately, how we saw each other.

This particular show is called ‘Next to Normal,’ and it garnered a lot of attention when it opened on Broadway in 2009. It tells the story of a woman who lives with manic depression and shows how the illness affects her and her family – and Francesca found that it was the first time she saw her own mental health issues in a character. Francesca, now 19 years old, was diagnosed with depression at age 15 and had never seen her illness portrayed as honestly as it is in the show before.

I wanted to know more about her experience with the show and how she thought it handles the difficult topic of mental health issues, so we sat down one evening to talk about the show and Francesca’s own experiences with mental illness.

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