Next to Normal

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“Next to Normal”

A Rock Musical
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Opens September 17, 2013

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Music by Tom Kitt; Lyrics by Brian Yorkley
Directed by Brian Katz
Musical Direction by Armando Fox
Musical Staging by Daunielle Rasmussen

“A steaming, fiery cauldron of raw emotion… amazingly realized characters… this is a show with a whole lot of heart, and much to say, not only about mental illness, but the nature of families and human relationships.” -Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times

Custom Made Theatre Stages Startling Rock Musical, “Next to Normal,” Sept. 17-Now Extended until Oct 27!

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Tony and Pulitzer-winning rock musical explores how one “normal” suburban family deals with a mental health crisis.   

When the Rolling Stones sang “Mother’s Little Helper,” they didn’t mean Mom’s two-year-old following her around the house with his own little Fisher Price vacuum cleaner.  Naah, the Stones’ mama was popping pills to get through the day.

In Next to Normal, the Mom isn’t just stressed, she has bipolar disorder – and that does not even begin to describe her illness.  This Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical, with music by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Brian Yorkley, explores how one suburban family copes with crisis and this particular mental problem. Next to Normal is an emotional roller-coaster of a show, taking us from the brightest hope to the deepest despair, and then back again.  With soaring melodies and an indie rock score, Next to Normal employs the full power of musical theatre to tell an important, transcendent story.

Next to Normal opens Sept. 17 and runs through October 13.  Previews Sept. 13-15, 8:00 p.m. $30.  Opening Night Sept. 17, 8:00 p.m. $50. Runs Thurs-Fri 8:00 pm; Sat. 2:00 & 8:00 pm; Sun 7:00 pm through Oct. 27. Tickets are $37-$43, with discounts for Students, Seniors, and TBA members with proper I.D. Gough Street Playhouse, 1622 Gough Street, San Francisco. (415) 798-CMTC, www.custommade.org

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Director Brian Katz on Next to Normal

When I first saw Next to Normal on Broadway, I fell instantly in love with the raw emotion of the play and the intensity of the original cast.  Later that night, though, I had a revelation – that this musical was really a small theater piece trapped on a Broadway stage.  That is, while the original staging (which often felt like a rock concert) was fun and commercial, this story could only benefit from the audience being let into Dan and Diana’s troubled home. This is what we are attempting to create in the Custom Made production – an intimate, sincere, and honest look at mental illness and how it can drive a family both apart and together. And, of course, to rock out this amazing score”.

This will be the first production in San Francisco since the Broadway tour, and the first time Next to Normal has been staged in such an intimate way.  With Dan and Diana’s home encased by the Gough St thrust stage, audiences are merely feet away from the drama surrounding them, and the emotional violence of the story, as well as its humor and hope.  The Best of Broadway road show played at the Curran Theatre in 2011, and San Jose Rep staged it in early 2013.  Just before the production closed in San Jose, the very ambitious Pinole Players staged the East Bay premiere – directed by Custom Made’s Brian Katz.

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Critical Comment

Katz got the chance to hone his ideas in Pinole, fully realizing he would bring Next to Normal to San Francisco later in 2013.

Contra Costa Times critic Pat Crain called Katz’s work “a steaming, fiery cauldron of raw emotion.”

“Director Brian Katz was convinced,” Craig continued, “that the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about bipolar disorder would work in an intimate theater, and he proved himself correct…. Audiences will swelter before this blistering furnace of a family trying to cope with a bipolar mother, Diana, who is trying to deal with the alternate universe in which she so often lives.

“And, yep, it is a musical, a rock musical at that. And it has a remarkably tuneful score and wonderful lyrics that are both catchy and help move the plot along. The score moves from country rock to something close to power ballads as it surveys the inner and outer turmoil of the family’s life.”

Further Critical Comment on Next to Normal

After opening on Broadway in 2009, Next to Normal was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won three of them.  The following year, it won the Pulitzer, in no small part for its insightful story of a woman fighting through an all-too-common psychological problem to remain a part of her family.

New York critics were enthusiastic.  Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote that the Broadway production is “A brave, breathtaking musical. It is something much more than a feel-good musical: it is a feel-everything musical.”  Rolling Stone Magazine called it “The best new musical of the season – by a mile.”

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Cast and Production

Lisa-Marie Newton (Diana) returns to the Custom Stage after playing The Homeless Woman in A New Brain and Kitty in The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer. She can’t begin to express the deep gratitude she feels getting to play this role of a lifetime for a second time, having performed in the East Bay Regional Premiere at Pinole Community Players earlier this year. Sincere thanks to Brian and Armando for allowing her the opportunity. Lisa-Marie has received a BATCC award for her work as Sara Jane Moore in Assassins (Ray of Light Theatre) and a nomination for playing Meredith in Bat Boy (Foothill Music Theatre). Other favorite roles include the title character in The Drowsy Chaperone (Creede Repertory Theatre, CO), Sister Margaret Cortona in ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (Bigger than a Breadbox Theatre), Rebecca in Pinter’s Ashes to Ashes (Second Wind Productions).  Film Credits: Weekend King, Roxie. Education: Eastman School of Music (BM), University of Arizona (MM), currently studies acting with Richard Seyd.  www.LMNewton.com

LaMont Ridgell (Dan), is excited and honored as this is his debut with the Custom Made Theater Company in this groundbreaking musical. It’s also his first show with many of the cast and Brian Katz, our director. He is very active performing in the Bay Area and just finished performing in Masquer’s Playhouse acclaimed production of Closer Than Ever. He was heard as Audrey II, the maniacal plant Hell bent on taking over the world in Woodminster’s production of Little Shop of Horrors, he was El Gallo in The Fantasticks at Altarena Playhouse and also played Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha both directed by Stewart Lyle & musically directed by Armando Fox. Along with Perry Aliado, this is a mini-reunion of sorts. He also played Riff in Contra Costa Civic Theatre’s record- breaking production of West Side Story and Jim in their acclaimed production of Big River. He was Locke/The Prince in Bindlestiff Studio’s acclaimed production of the West Coast Premiere of Thunder Above, Deeps Below, and Billy Flynn in Chicago and  Papa Ge in Once on This Island for the Willows Theatre Company. In his first play in SF, he was Sam in Off Broadway West’s critically acclaimed production of Master Harold…and the Boys. The show was nominated for five SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards including a nod for Mr. Ridgell as Principal Actor. This show is dedicated to his cousin Natalie Allen and all families who have had to embrace and understand mental illness.

Mackenzie Cala (Natalie) is thrilled to make her Custom Made debut! Mackenzie is a senior at Alameda High School and has performed with their drama department for the past four years. Some of her favorite roles at AHS include Little Sally (Urinetown, The Musical), Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Ado Annie (Oklahoma!). Last year through San Jose Top Honors, Mackenzie was nominated under the “best leading actress” category for her most recent school performance as Natalie in All Shook Up. In addition, Mackenzie has worked with other local theaters–her most recent being Altarena Playhouse where she played the role of Anna in Spring Awakening. Mackenzie is currently going through the college audition process and hopes to pursue a career as an actress in the future. Much love and many thanks to my family and friends who continue to push and inspire me in all aspects of life.

Danny Gould (Gabe) is incredibly excited and honored to be performing with some of the Bay Area’s finest in Custom Made’s production of Next to Normal.  Danny is currently working as a personal trainer and will complete his Biology degree at Stanford University in the Spring!  When he’s not whipping his clients into shape, Danny enjoys watching Stanford football and sleeping.  Past theater credits include Escaping Queens (Johnny, Cabrillo Stage), Miss Saigon (Chris, PAP), Les Miserables (Marius, CMT Marquee), and The Last Five Years (Jamie, Stanford).

Jordon Bridges (Henry) is thrilled to debut in his first Bay Area production and could not feel more privileged that Custom Made chose him for the role of Henry. Jordon attended the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, where he studied acting, and is currently working two jobs while he pursues his passion for theater. Some past credits include: Paul San Marco in A Chorus Line, Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Laurie in Little Women. Jordon is a recent transfer to the Bay. He wishes to thank all of those who have supported him in the large endeavor that he has decided to take on for his life. He credits his role in Next To Normal to Elizabeth Curtis, who has pushed him beyond boundaries as a friend, as well as a fellow performer.

Perry Aliado (Dr. Madden, Dr. Fine) is an actor/singer, church chorister, informal educator, and aspiring Math and Numbers geek – he is absolutely THRILLED to be reprising his roles of Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine from the East Bay premiere of Next to Normal in Pinole earlier this spring. Perry is also Resident Dramaturge of Custom Made Theatre Company, and Casting Coordinator of Bindlestiff Studio, San Francisco’s Filipino and Filipino-American theatre and performing arts space. He has worked prior with: American Conservatory Theater (Stuck Elevator); Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Mother Courage, Yellowjackets); Shotgun Players (The Salt Plays: In The Wound, The Road to Hades), and Impact Theatre (Macbeth, Othello, Beer Theatre: “The Shepherds”), to name a few. Other past favorite shows and roles include Miss Saigon (Engineer), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Chip), You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Schroeder), and Custom Made’s Assassins (Zangara) and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Saint Peter). This past summer, Perry trained with members of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, as well was mentored incarcerated youth in playwriting with Each One, Reach One. He is a ginormous fan of handwriting with pencil and paper, postage stamps and snail-mail, and studying maps. To name a few.

Brian Katz (Director) is the co-founder and Artistic Director of the Custom Made Theatre Company, for which he has directed dozens of productions including the SF Critic Circle Best Overall Production of 2012: Edward Albee’s The Play About the Baby, A Bright Room Called Day (nom. Best Director), Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Red Light Winter, all of which were regional premieresHe has directed or produced numerous SFBATCC nominated productions including Little Brother, The Merchant of Venice, M. Butterfly, A Delicate Balance and A New Brain. His productions of Sondheim’s Assassins and the premiere of the musical Bye-bye, bin Laden! were named in multiple Top-10 production lists.  Brian has a B.A. in theatre literature and criticism from Clark University and interned in dramaturgy at the Goodman Theatre.  Next, he will re-exploring his Candide (of California) off-off Broadway in a workshop for the cell, which will be held on Oct 15th.

 Armando Fox (Musical Director)  When he saw this show in Broadway previews, Armando immediately thought “I want to do this show, with Brian directing and Lisa-Marie playing Diana.” You can imagine his delight at how this opportunity came together. Armando previously worked with Brian on Assassins in 2007 (Top 10-production, Bay Guardian) and has Music Directed many favorites elsewhere including Rent, The Fantasticks, Spelling Bee, Man of La Mancha, Gypsy, Chicago, Cabaret, Company, Merrily…, Oh My Godmother (for which he also did the orchestrations), and Sweeney Todd (St. Mary’s College). His “survival guide to Music Directing” is available at armandofox.com. He believes it’s the best book about music directing written by a computer science professor, which is Armando’s real-life job at UC Berkeley. He lives in San Francisco with his wonderful wife Tonia.

Scenic Design – Erik LaDue
Lighting Design - Maxx Kurzunski
Stage Manager – Maria Calderazzo

 

Show Times and Tickets

Press Opening: Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 8:00 pm
Previews: Fri. – Sun., Sept. 13-15, 8:00 pm

Runs Thurs-Fri 8:00 pm; Sat. 2:00 & 8:00 pm; Sun 7:00 pm through Oct. 27

Previews $30
Opening Night $50
General Admission $37-43
Students/Seniors/TBA members $27-$38

Learn more & buy tickets at (415) 798-CMTC, http://www.custommade.org 

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For Calendar Editors

Next to Normal .Tony and Pulitzer winning rock musical by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey.  A suburban mother attempts to cope with her mental illness and its effect on her family.  Directed by Brian Katz. Opens Sept. 17 and runs through October 13.  Previews Sept. 13-15, 8:00 p.m. $30.  Opening Night Sept. 17, 8:00 p.m. $50. Runs Thurs-Fri 8:00 pm; Sat. 8:00 pm; Sun 7:00 pm through Oct. 27. Tickets are $37-$43, with discounts for Students, Seniors, and TBA members with proper I.D. Gough Street Playhouse, 1622 Gough Street, San Francisco. (415) 798-CMTC, www.custommade.org

Press Contact:  Gary Carr, Rising Moon Marketing & Public Relations, (925) 672-8717, carpool@pacbell.net