Friday, September 14, 2012

'Next to Normal' opens today at Steel River Playhouse

Photos by John Daggett

The popular Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, “Next to Normal,” is the highly anticipated 2012-13 season opener for Steel River Playhouse (formerly Tri-County Performing Arts Center, or Tri-PAC). Running for just six performances over two weekends (Sept. 14 through Sept. 23), “Next to Normal” is a compellingly honest story that is by turns comedic and moving.
A contemporary rock musical infused with a powerful story line, “Next to Normal” centers on the Goodmans – Dan, Diana, Gabe and Natalie – a seemingly “normal” family as real and recognizable as our own. Each is trying to take care of themselves and each other, wrestling to hold onto home, joy, commitment and love in the face of strong and subtle forces.
The magic of  “Next to Normal” is how much you care about the characters and their tenacity as they experience each day.
The New York Times called it a “brave, breath-taking musical,” and a “feel-everything musical.”
The Washington Post went so far as to say it”defines the modern American musical.”
Unlike traditional musicals comprised of discrete sections of dialogue and song, the thrilling musical numbers of  “Next to Normal” are woven seamlessly into the work and carry the plot forward organically.
A live orchestra supports the stellar cast of actor-singers, keeping up SteelRiver Playhouse’s longstanding commitment to high quality musicianship as an essential part of the musical theater experience.
“Next to Normal” is directed by Kevin Laibson, a New York-based producer and director who has been instrumental in encouraging and enabling artists and playwrights to take risks and keep theater original and powerful
Laibson says “Next to Normal” is about “... how hard people work to be together.” What makes the play so powerful, Laibson says, is “how much the audience will care about these characters, and how much their struggles will mean to everyone watching.”
The play will be performed in Steel River Playhouse’s intimate Newberry Loft, which will seat less than 100 people for each performance. Laibson believes that this setting will enhance the audience’s identification with the characters’ will to adapt to their lives and each other.
The cast includes Maddie Aicher, as the daughter, Natalie Goodman; Steven Burke as the son, Gabe Goodman; Drew Carr as Henry; Greg Kasander  as the father, Dan Goodman; Denise Webb as the mother, Diana Goodman; and Kevin Ray Johnson  as Dr. Madden.
“Next to Normal” will be performed on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sept.  14, 15, 21 and 22 and Sundays at 3 p.m., Sept. 16 and 23 at Steel River Playhouse, 245 East High St., Pottstown. In addition, on Sunday, Sept. 16 following the performance audience members can ask questions of the director and cast during our Talkback.
The musical is directed by Kevin Laibson; music directed by Deborah Stimson-Snow.
Single ticket prices are Adults $19, Seniors (65+) $17 and Students/Children $15. There are two changes in ticketing policy this season; groups of 10 or more get a higher discount – $3 off per
ticket. And tickets bought online - - are the same price as tickets purchased at the box office.


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