Next to Normal, with Spencer, Ripley, Tveit and Damiano, Sings a New Song in DC

News   Next to Normal, with Spencer, Ripley, Tveit and Damiano, Sings a New Song in DC Next to Normal, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's rock musical about a family in crisis, resurfaces in a revised form at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, Nov. 21 following a high-profile Off-Broadway run at Second Stage Theatre.

Alice Ripley from Second Stage's Next to Normal
Alice Ripley from Second Stage's Next to Normal Photo by Joan Marcus

Michael Greif again directs (and Sergio A. Trujillo again choreographs) the tale of a mentally unstable mother and the waves she creates in the lives of her husband and daughter. Tony Award nominee Alice Ripley (Side Show) repeats her work as mom Diana; as does Aaron Tveit (Wicked, Hairspray) as son Gabe; Jennifer Damiano (Spring Awakening) as daughter Natalie; and Adam Chanler-Berat (Broadway's Les Misérables) as Henry, a classmate.

J. Robert Spencer (Nick Massi in the original cast of Jersey Boys) joins the cast as the harried father, Dan, and Louis Hobson plays multiple roles, including doctors.

Saying this is a "repeat" of earlier work is imprecise. Book writer and lyricist Yorkey and composer Kitt jumped into rewrites after the February-March 2008 New York City run.

Greif (Rent, Grey Gardens) stated, "Tom and Brian have been changing the music, lyrics and book to make it even more truthful and sophisticated. The affection and commitment everyone feels for the development of this piece is clear; we have many of the same actors and musicians working with us at Arena in addition to our original design team. We welcome our extraordinary new cast members and we are grateful to Arena to have this opportunity to work on this fantastic piece again."

Performances continue to Jan. 18, 2009, at Arena Stage in Crystal City (a temporary home in Arlington, VA, while Arena's HQ is undergoing construction and expansion). Opening is Dec. 10 at 8 PM. "This is a musical that gets under your skin," stated artistic director Molly Smith. "When I saw Next to Normal last spring, I knew this musical belonged at Arena. We believe that second productions are an important part of the evolution of a musical, and we are excited about being part of the next stage for this remarkable new American musical."

Here's how Arena bills the show: "Next to Normal is a contemporary musical that explores how one suburban household copes with crisis. With provocative lyrics and an electrifying score of more than 30 original songs, Next to Normal shows how far two parents will go to keep themselves sane and their family's world intact."

The Off-Broadway production played an extended, sold-out run at Second Stage Theatre and received the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Score, as well as the following nominations: Outstanding Musical (Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, Lortel Awards), Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical for Alice Ripley (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle), Outstanding Score (Drama Desk) and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for Aaron Tveit (Lortel Award), among others.

Understudies for the DC cast of Next to Normal include Michael Berry, Meghann Fahy, Mary Mossberg and Timothy Young.

Next to Normal features set design by Mark Wendland, costume design by Jeff Mahshie, lighting design by Kevin Adams, sound design by Brian Ronan, musical direction by Charlie Alterman, orchestrations by Tom Kitt and Michael Starobin and stage management by Judith Schoenfeld.

For tickets and more information visit www.arenastage.org or call (202) 488-3300.

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