"Next to Normal" tackles difficult family issues in rock musical form

Topic: College of Fine Arts

August 28, 2014

'Next to Normal' cast

"Next to Normal," an electrifying rock musical about a suburban mother struggling with mental illness, will open at Ball State University at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 in University Theatre. The production also will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6 and 9-13, with matinee performances at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 6-7.

"'Next to Normal' is a remarkable show that has been a creative and musical challenge to produce," said George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Theater, Beth Turcotte, the show’s director. Instructor of Dance Susan Koper will choreograph Ball State’s production, while Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance Johnna Tavanini will serve as musical director.

Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Next to Normal” tells the story of a mother who has bipolar disorder and the effect that the illness has on her family. The musical also addresses other difficult issues such as drug abuse, suicide, grieving and psychiatry ethics.

Koper described “Next to Normal” as both “beautiful” and “tragic.” “Although the musical does not contain a lot of choreography, the challenges for me were to have the movement capture both of these qualities and to have the ‘voice’ of the body reflect the turmoil and chaos Diana faces in her everyday life.”

“One unique aspect that makes our production of ‘Next to Normal’ different from other productions is the set. The show is usually set in an opened house, but our production uses a set of five doors in which all pieces involved become other set pieces.” Turcotte said. "I believe our combination of unique set pieces, costumes, lights, cast and music tells a remarkable story of a family's journey toward personal growth and understanding."

Tickets for "Next to Normal" cost $18 for the general public, $17 for faculty and staff, $15 for senior citizens and $13 for students. They are available from the University Theatre Box Office, open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the box office at 765-285-8749 or visit bsu.edu/theatre for more information.

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