Oct. 24, 2012 - Issue #888: Winter Guide 2012
Next to NormalUntil Sun, Nov 11 (7:30 pm)
Directed by Ron Jenkins
Citadel Theatre, $35 – $84
Socially conscious theatre is often responsible for engaging both the heart and mind in its creation of a story on stage. Add in the medium of rock musical and what you may end up with is a piece that pulls in three Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Next to Normal opens at the Citadel this week, and it's prepared to subvert some stigmas. Primarily, the musical addresses mental illness and how the family dynamic alters during the affecting struggle of Diana, a wife and mother.
Local actor Robert Markus will play Gabe, Diana's son, and, along with being prepared for the show's demanding musical score, he's appreciative of what the show brings to light in its unique approach to an often-veiled subject.
"I think the show does a wonderful thing," explains Markus. "It opens a discussion. This show is not all about the disorder, though. It's about how the family deals with it. That's important, because everyone can relate to having a family or dealing with issues like miscommunication, even if they can't relate personally to knowing someone with a mental illness."
The show hosts an intimate cast of six, an aspect that Markus regards as an invitation to develop a keen sense of adventure when it comes to allowing the piece to evolve.
"Working in a cast of six is quite fun," says Markus. "Once you develop that level of rapport with one another, you really get to play. I'm blown away by the amount of commitment and honesty everyone brings."
Next to Normal calls on conversation and humour in order to create an environment of access. Most notably, though, the show employs the medium of musical. Of course, musicals come with their own stigma-related baggage, but Markus commends much about how the show approaches its subject.
"With musicals, it's really like you have two scripts. You have what the music is doing, and you have what the words are doing. As an actor it's great because you can pull from both. I think music can take you to places just as much as words can. In fact, to have both tied together in a great score can really take you to a place that text alone can't." V vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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