Rock Musical “Next to Normal” Wins Pulitzer for Drama

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Actor Alice Ripley and the cast of

Actor Alice Ripley and the cast of 'Next to Normal' perform onstage during the 63rd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

The rock musical “Next to Normal ” has received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The show, with music by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, dealt with an unlikely subject for a Broadway show: mental illness. The Pulitzer recognized the work for expanding “the scope of subject matter for musicals.” The Pulitzer carries a $10,000 cash prize.

Earlier this year, 'Next to Normal' took home the 2009 Tony Award for Best Original Score (Musical and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre. Alice Ripley, who plays the manic-depressive suburban homemaker at the center of the story, won the Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.  When the show opened, New York Times chief theater critic Ben Brantley wrote '[Next to Normal is a] brave, breathtaking musical. It is something much more than a feel-good musical: it is a feel-everything musical.'

Kitt and Yorkey were students and friends at Columbia University when they first developed the idea for the show in the late 1990s, when it  was conceived as a ten-minute piece called Feeling Electric. It had an Off-Broadway run at Second Stage and a regional engagement at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., before it came to Broadway in March 2009.