Want to go?
WHAT: “Next to Normal”
WHEN: 8:00 p.m. October 19, 20, 26, 27 and Nov 2 and 3; 2:00 p.m. October 21 and 28
WHERE: Harlequins Theatre, 414 Wayne St, rear, Sandusky
COST: $15.00 per ticket
INFO & RESERVATIONS: www.harlequinstheatre.com
Harlequins Theatre has not performed a musical in its regular season in a number of years.
“If Harlequins was going to begin producing musicals again then I thought we should jump in full force,” said director Phillip W. Johnson, who also plays the role of the dad. Johnson pitched the idea to the playreading committee with the intention of wanting to direct it. “It’s a fantastic show!” said Johnson.
His biggest challenge has been playing the role of Dan as well as directing. “It’s becoming very difficult to find enough men to do musicals lately.”
Luckily Colin Anderson seems to be an overachiever when it comes to “Next to Normal.” “It’s my favorite show. I’ve seen it 6 times, twice travelling to Cincinnati,” said Anderson, who plays his all time favorite character, Henry. This was the first time he could audition to be in it and he jumped at the chance, even commuting all the way from the Westlake area. Anderson wrote a high school thesis on “Next to Normal” but mostly, he said, “I love being able to bring Henry to life.”
Adam Cox, who has also seen “Next to Normal,” is playing the doctor, and said it’s become his favorite show. “I’m half comic relief and half serious,” Cox said about his character. A friend told him a community theatre in the area was holding auditions for the show and he was glad to get a part. Cox noted, “I just wanted to be able to be a part of it.”
A member of Harlequins and its board, Cody Noon was familiar with the play and had heard the music. “I thought this would be a great opportunity,” says Noon, and admits that his character, Gabe is “like a hallucination and is happy in his own little world.”
As for the females, Cindy Bilby not only saw, it but experienced it with Tony award winning actress Alice Ripley, whose part she is now playing as Diana the mother. “I never thought I’d get the chance to play Alice Ripley’s role,” said Bilby, “I only hope I can do it justice.”
The only cast member who had never heard of “Next to Normal” was Pamela Shirtz. However, she has many friends at Harlequins and was hearing all the hype so did some research. Both she and Cindy Bilby agree that it’s a groundbreaking musical, tackling more serious and sensitive subjects. “Next to Normal” is educational and a rock musical, how can it lose?