Broadway play hits Macomb

Sandra sepaniak

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It’s not every day that Western is treated to a show that’s seen the stages of Broadway, let alone a show that can claim to have won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

This coming weekend however, a production of the Tony Award-winning musical “Next to Normal,” directed by Michael Kelly, will be performed for all to see.

Debuting off-Broadway in 2008, “Next to Normal” made quite a splash, with the previously mentioned awards and others to its name. This rock musical follows a mother with bipolar disorder and how coping with her illness affects her family, and also explores the topics of grief, suicide, drug abuse and life in suburbia.

Tom Kitt composed the award-winning score, and Brian Yorkey wrote the lyrics and script.

As for the cast, everyone seems thrilled to be working with such a production. Lori Kay, a senior and Theater Departmental Scholar who is playing the role of Diana, seemed to be particularly thrilled about the production.

“It’s such an incredible challenge working on a show like ‘Next to Normal,'” Kay said. “Diana is such an intense and sensitive woman – having the opportunity to live in her shoes … has taught me more about myself than I ever would’ve expected.”

James Bleecker, a sophomore BFA Musical Theater major playing the role of Dan, also highlighted how challenging it was to put on the musical.

“‘Next to Normal’ holds its strength within the small ensemble of characters,” Bleecker said. “This show (exemplifies) a dysfunctional family with a passion to create a new, better future; it becomes hard not to relate.”

Understandably, it was challenging for all involved.

When asked about preparations for the musical, Emily Rhein, the stage manager, described a process dating back to the last week of August, when auditions were held.

After some preparation with music director Dr. Matt Bean in October, rehearsals began on November 6 with all lines and songs quickly memorized.

“When we open, we will have had just under 25 rehearsals,” Rhein said.

“Next to Normal” will be performed in Simpkins Theater, located on the second floor of Simpkins Hall, on Dec. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. along with a matinee at 2:00 p.m. Dec. 10.

Tickets are $2 for general admission, and they are free for students. No reservations will be taken, and viewers are advised that seating in the theater is limited.



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