Trustus Theatre is starting their 28th season with the intensely moving Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical Next To Normal. This show will mark the first show under the new leadership of Dewey Scott-Wiley and Larry Hembree as Artstic Director and Managing Director respectively, as well as the South Carolina premiere of the show which closed on Broadway in January 2011. Next To Normal opens on the newly named Thigpen Main Stage September 7th, 2012 at 8:00pm. The show runs through September 29th, 2012. Next to Normal is sponsored by NAMI Mid-Carolina, working to improve the treatment and quality of life for people who live with mental illnesses, their families, and the community through education, support and advocacy.
“With the rights recently becoming available, we knew we wanted to produce Next to Normal in our 28th season,” said Trustus Artistic Director Dewey-Scott-Wiley. “This year we're returning to the challenging material that gave Trustus its name - great stories about real human experiences.” This show examines family and societal institutions through mental illness. It's a very real experience that exists in high numbers in America, but is often kept a secret due to social niceties and fears of misunderstanding. “There's a reason this show won the Pulitzer,” said Scott-Wiley. “This show explores the effects of mental illness on family, but it's really holding a mirror up to the human experience. It's the kind of script that has made people 'Trust Us' over the years.”
This show introduced audiences to the Goodman family. They appear to be a typical suburban-dwelling American brood. Diana and Dan have a teenage daughter and son, a steady income, and a beautiful home. However, behind the shutters of their windows Diana is suffering from a worsening bi-polar disorder. Diana is trying to discover the root of her psychosis with treatment from various doctors, Dan is trying to hold the family together, and their daughter Natalie is trying to figure out how to escape her mother's fate all while practicing piano, making perfect grades, and learning about love in an imperfect world - all of them hoping to become the normal family they appear to be.
Trustus Company Member Chad Henderson, who recently directed the highly-lauded Trustus production of Avenue Q - returns to the helm as director. “Next to Normal was the first show I saw on Broadway,” said Henderson. “[It] literally left me speechless. I think it took me the full train ride back to Brooklyn before I was able to verbalize what I was feeling after seeing it. In the end, what is stirring about it is that even if you feel like these characters are going through something you might not personally understand - you still see the human element. There is universality in the idea of love and loss, and this show allows that to resonate with you no matter if you've dealt with mental illness or not. I couldn't be more thankful that I'm able to work on it now at Trustus. I can't wait for our production to have a similar effect on Columbia audiences.”
Next to Normal boasts a very demanding score with a challenging script, and the Trustus cast rises to the occasion. Trustus Company Member Vicky Saye Henderson (The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Spring Awakening) takes on the role of Diana - the mother and wife struggling with her worsening bi-polar disorder. Trustus Alumni Paul Kaufmann (August: Osage County, Assassins) - no stranger to Off-Broadway and Columbia stages - plays Diana's ever-supportive husband, Dan. Andy Bell is making is Trustus debut as Gabe, their son. Trustus Company Member ElisaBeth Smith Baker (Avenue Q, Spring Awakening) takes on the role of Natalie, their Redbull-chugging piano-obsessed daughter. Chase Nelson, who made his Trustus premiere in Spring Awakening, returns as Henry, Natalie's jazz-playing stoner boyfriend. Finally, Trustus Company Member Terrance Henderson takes on the roles of Diana's doctors - diagnosing and treating Diana's illness.
Music Director Tom Beard is leading a 6-piece orchestra complete with piano, guitar, bass, percussion, cello, and violin - bringing these vibrant compositions to life on the Thigpen Main Stage.
Next to Normal opens on the Trustus Main Stage on Friday, September 7th at 8:00pm and runs through Saturday, September 29th, 2012. Main Stage shows start at 8:00pm Thursdays through Saturdays, and Sunday matinees are at 3:00pm. A talk-back featuring cast, crew, and specialists in the field of mental-illness will take place after the matinee on September 16th. Tickets are $27.00 for adults, $25.00 for military and seniors, and $20.00 for students. Half-price Student Rush-Tickets are available 15 minutes prior to curtain is seating is available.