Dan Goodman




Somewhere between thirties and forties


Diana Goodman (wife)

Gabriel Goodman (son, deceased)

Natalie Goodman (daughter)

Original Portrayer

J. Robert Spencer

Dan Goodman is a character in Next to Normal, originally played by J. Robert Spencer on Broadway.


  • Diana’s husband, father of Gabe and Natalie. Stage age thirties or forties.

Handsome, genuine, loyal, constant, tired. As Act I begins, we find Dan Goodman finding his wife, Diana up late- talking to someone that she had labled as "just herself". She reassures him and directs him to the bedroom and tells him she will be up in a minute. He goes. 

Later on in the act, Dan gets ready for work after being 10 minutes late ("Just Another Day"), expressing to himself and to the audience that he "never knows what (Diana) is talking about"- a sign of the manic depression she suffers from. Into the song, Dan consoles Diana, who is on the floor making sandwiches, telling her that he will take her to Dr. Fine to get her medicine adjusted.

We figure out that Dan is the one that takes Diana  to and from hospital visits and waits for her in the car and asks himself ("Who's Crazy?/My Psychopharmacologist and I") if it's so crazy to be going from visit to visit for Diana's illness. In an off-broadway version we see Dan as a younger male with Diana while she was in her prime- a truly manic pixie dream girl state. 

Diana grows tired of her medication and the lack of feeling that it causes ("I Miss the Mountains") a flashback from her college years parallel Natalie and Henry's relationship. We find out that Diana was pregnant and Dan proposed to her because of the baby- who we later learn is Gabriel and the main issue with their dysfunctional marriage.

When Diana throws out her medication, Dan believes that Diana's getting better and inadvertedly invites Henry over for dinner, Diana in a highly manic state and Dan as well. ("It's Gonna Be Good") 

The dinner goes haywire when Dan sits down and tells Diana that their son has been dead for sixteen years. ("He's Not Here")

After Natalie leaves with Henry, Dan consoles Diana and assures her that he's hurting as well, but Diana lashes out and accuses him of knowing nothing of grief ("You Don't Know"). Dan opens up to Diana and reminds her that he is the one who has been holding on to their relationship, that he cares. Gabe- the dead/alive/hallucination/physical representation of mental illness enters and Diana is forced to chose between the comfort of her husband and her "dead" son. ("I Am the One").

Later on, while Diana is doing hypnosis treatments with Dr. Madden, Dan is found at home during Natalie's recital. ("Make Up Your Mind/Catch Me I'm Falling"). Diana reveals that Dan and Diana met during undergrad school- architecture. She tells Dr. Madden that the baby wasn't planned, nor the marriage. This is when the audience truly learns what the flashback in I Miss the Mountains was about. While Natalie plays at her recital, in some versions, Dan can be seen taking several shots of alcohol.

Soon, Diana makes the decision to clean out the dead child's room and Dan assures Diana that it's a "good step". Dan leaves Diana alone to clean out the room. ("I Dreamed a Dance").

After Gabriel convinces his mother to attempt suicide ("There's a World"), he is at the hospital, talking to Dr. Madden, who explains the affects of ECT- electro convulsive shock therapy- to which he respond with a blunt "well that seems very... Fucked." He explains to Dr. Madden that he thought his wife was better, and assures Madden that he doesn't think Diana will go for the ECT. Though, he does return home and looks around the room that Diana had attempted suicide in, cleaning off the blood and packing up the rest of Gabriel's things. ("I've Been"). Dan finally begins to open up and reveals to himself that he could never be alone.

Natalie and Dan talk soon after, and questions Natalie about her relationship with Henry. He then reveals to Natalie that Diana is, in fact, in for ECT. Diana speaks her mind ("Didn't I See This Movie?"), but finds Dan standing there, in favor of the new treatment. ("A Light in the Dark"). Diana and Dan both reveal that they cannot get through what they're trying to go through alone, and Dan pursuades Diana in favor of the ECT. Thus concludes Act I.

After Diana receives the treatment and Natalie explores various clubs ("Wish I Were Here"), Dan takes Diana home, to find out that Diana had lost nineteen years worth of memories.

Worried, Dan goes to Dr. Madden, seeking some sort of counsolation from him. Madden assures Dan that the memory loss is normal ("Seconds and Years"), and Dan declares that he "couldn't give a flying fuck what's normal". Diana declares that she doesn't see her hallucinations anymore, but Dan still seems curious about Diana's memory. Madden tells Dan to help Diana, but keep the mention of their son and her memories in general light at first.

After the fact, Dan and Diana head home to start on Diana's memories, Dan hiding most of the negative things in their family's life-- including Gabriel ("Better Than Before"). Natalie reveals that Dan and Diana eloped in Portland in a rage against her parents- mostly Dan at this point.

Diana talks to Dr. Madden, confused about the lack of memories, especially the existence- or, rather, lack of existence- of Gabrirel. Madden asks Diana if she's talked to Dan about their son, to which she is throughout confused.

Diana goes home to Gabriel's old room to find a box of keepsakes, and Dan finds her there, playing Gabe's old music box. Diana soon remembers about Gabriel and expresses to Dan that she remembers everything ("How Could I Ever Forget?"), inadvertendly making Dan realize how much grief he pushed aside in favor of Diana's own mental health.

Diana questions Dan about their son more, to which Dan replies with a question- why would you want to remember te things that hurt you? She presses him more, and he reveals that the doctors missed what was wrong- declared that babies just cry. ("How Could I Ever Forget? (reprise)") He repeats a line from How Could I Ever Forget: and I was a child/raising a child.

Dan tells Diana that they should call Dr. Madden, and Diana asks what the baby's name was. He avoids the subject ("It's Gonna Be Good (reprise)") and takes the music box from Diana's hands, smashing it to the ground.

Diana questions her own intentions on staying (a beautiful parallel between Diana/Natalie and Dan/Natalie, I must say,) Dan expresses his commitment to both Diana and the family, that he made a vow by marrying her and that he wouldn't break it. ("Why Stay?/A Promise"). Though, Gabe soon becomes visible to Diana and she pushes him away, declaring with a yell that there is nothing there. ("I'm Alive (reprise)"). Diana once again goss to the doctor, leaving Dan alone.

After searching of self, Diana returns to her house and to Dan, but to leave. ("So Anyway"). Diana leaves Dan, and at this point, Dan Goodman breaks. He allows himself to open up to his own illness, his own grief. He has nothing left but himself-- And Gabe.

He acknowledges Gabe's existence ("I Am the One (reprise)"), stricken by grief. Thus, the infamous line "hi, dad" was born.

Gabriel leaves off- somewhere- after the song is finished, and Natalie finds Dan crying in presumably the same chair that Diana had attempted suicide in. Natalie questions where her mother went, and the grief-ridden Dan Goodman tells her that she's gone.

Natalie, on a positive note, tells Dan that they need some light ("Light"). Dan is just now opening himself up to his own depression. He talks to Dr. Madden about Diana, initially, but ends up seeking help for himself.



He's Not Here - Act 1

Solos (In a duet)Edit

I am the One (with Gabe and Diana)-Act 1

How Could I Ever Forget (with Diana) - Act 2

I've Been (with Gabe) - Act 1

A Light In The Dark (with Diana) - Act 1

I am the One (Reprise)(with Gabe)-Act 2

Solos (In a group number)Edit

Just Another Day (with Diana, Gabe, and Natalie) - Act 1

I Am The One (with Diana and Gabe)- Act 1

Who's Crazy/My Psychopharmacologist and I (with Diana and Dr. Fine [Gabe, Natalie, and Henry on backup vocals]) - Act 1