PHOTO CALL: Next to Normal, Starring Jessica Hendy, in Cincinnati

News   PHOTO CALL: Next to Normal, Starring Jessica Hendy, in Cincinnati
Jessica Hendy and Mark Hardy are parents living on the edge in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal, which opens the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati's 2011-2012 season.

D. Lynn Meyers directs the musical — about an American family attempting to hold it together under the strain of mental illness — which has a Tony Award-winning score by Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics). Next to Normal will run through Sept. 25.

Hendy, who has appeared on Broadway in Aida, Cats and Amour, takes on the role of Diana Goodman opposite Hardy (Broadway's Les Miserables, Titanic) as Dan Goodman.

Here's a first look at the production:

Completing the cast are recent Cincinnati Conservatory of Music graduate Mia Gentile as Natalie Goodman, Nick Cearley (All Shook Up, And Then I Wrote A Song About It) as Henry, Michael Schwitter (Jesus Christ Superstar) as Gabe and EST veteran Charlie Clark as Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine.

The nearly sung-through rock musical examines a woman struggling with bipolar disorder and depression, as her family strains to hold its center. It takes a candid look at prescription drug abuse, suicide, grief and notion of what a normal American family really is.

Designing the production are Reba Senske (costume design), Brian C. Mehring (lighting design) and Chuck Hatcher (sound design). Next to Normal will have choreography by Patti James and musical direction by Scot Woolley.

Next to Normal arrived on Broadway March 27, 2009, and officially opened April 15, 2009, at the Booth Theatre following an Off-Broadway run at Second Stage and a regional engagement at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. It ended its Broadway run Jan. 16, 2011. The national tour, which stars original Tony-winning actress Alice Ripley, concludes July 31 in Toronto.

The Broadway production earned Tony Awards for Best Score (Kitt/Yorkey), Best Orchestrations (Kitt/Michael Starobin), Best Actress (Ripley) and received Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Featured Actress (Jennifer Damiano), Best Actor (J. Robert Spencer), Best Direction (Michael Greif), Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. It was also awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

For tickets, phone (513) 421-3555 or visit

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