Kendra Kassebaum, Joe Cassidy and More Star in NEXT TO NORMAL at San Jose Rep, Now thru 2/3
San Jose Rep welcomes a cast of undeniable talent to the stage for the Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical Next to Normal, directed by David Ira Goldstein and co-produced with the Arizona Theatre Company.
Next to Normal is a feel-everything musical that sheds light on the struggles of a seemingly typical family dealing with a manic-depressive mother. The performance illustrates the effect this growing illness has on the family and addresses issues such as suicide and ethics in modern psychiatry.
Leading the production in the role of Diana, a bipolar suburban mother, the riveting Kendra Kassebaum will make her San Jose Rep debut. Kassebaum is most well-known for originating the role of Glinda in the first national tour of Wicked. Additional Broadway credits include roles in Rent, Assassins, and Leap of Faith.
Joining Kassebaum on stage as Dan, Diana's husband, will be Joe Cassidy, a fellow star who has performed in six Broadway productions of his own. Mark Farrell, A. J. Holmes, Andrea Ross, and Jonathan Stew round out the cast with appearances in more than 40 theatre productions between them.
Ross, playing the role of Natalie, held the lead role as Swallow on the US national tour of Whistle Down The Wind in addition to having a solo album, Moon River, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. A.J. Holmes, playing Henry in the production, recently completed a national tour as well, taking on the role of Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein. Holmes is also a composer and actor for the group Team StarKid, a viral sensation with a YouTube channel boasting 140 million views.
With all the unique backgrounds and professional experience, the group has unmatched expertise. The Arizona Daily Star comments that this particular Next to Normal cast, first premiering together with the Arizona Theatre Company, "seems born to play their roles."
The creator of these unforgettable characters, playwright Brian Yorkey, first met musical composer Tom Kitt while attending Columbia University. In addition to writing Next to Normal, Yorkey is also known for the production Making Tracks, the new country musical Play It By Heart, and the musical adaptation of Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet. Yorkey is also credited in the TV and film industry for co-creating the series Bears for the Logo network, scripting Sluts for Lionsgate Films, and writing Love Undercover for Pandemonium Films and Overture.
Tom Kitt has been a musical director and conductor on Broadway since 2002. At a glance, his credits include Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, High Fidelity, and Bring It On in addition to many others. For the Green Day musical American Idiot, Kitt took on the roles of music supervisor, orchestrator, and musical arranger. He also lent his string arrangements to the Grammy-winning Green Day album 21st Century Breakdown and is the founder of The Tom Kitt Band.
The production of Next to Normal originally started as a ten-minute musical for a Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) workshop. Yorkey was inspired by a Dateline news report on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), formerly known as electroshock. Yorkey and musician Kitt collaborated on the piece, originally calling it Feeling Electric.
From there the piece grew into a full-length Broadway musical, ultimately winning Yorkey and Kitt the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The production was also nominated for 11 Tony Awards, and won three including Best Musical Score.
"Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt tell a story with absolutely universal resonance and truth, and tell it in a wholly fresh way," states director David Ira Goldstein. "I trust that in its honesty, beauty and energy it will both stimulate one's intellect and reach straight to the heart."
Next to Normal will run from tonight, January 10 through February 3, with Press Opening Night at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, January 16.
Joe Cassidy (Dan) is delighted to make his San Jose Rep debut as Dan, a role that he played in some of the earliest iterations of Next to Normal. Broadway appearances include Catch Me If You Can as Agent Carl Hanratty; also Next To Normal; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels(Freddy & Andre); 1776 (Rutledge & Lee); Show Boat (Ravenal); Les Miserables (Valjean); and A Christmas Carol(Scrooge at 18) at Madison Square Garden. Other NYC appearances include Joe Cassidy, Rock Star at both Joe's Pub and Ars Nova. Joe's performed regionally in the U.S. in theaters coast to coast. He has been a concert soloist under Maestros Jack Everly, Steven Reineke, and Robert Moody, in both the U.S. and Canada and has recorded with Lorin Maazel. His TV & film credits include Law & Order: Illegitimate, Freefall, and Brando. His holiday CD, Simply Christmas, is available on iTunes. Visit his website: www.joecassidy.net.
Mark Farrell (Doctor Madden/Doctor Fine) has appeared in Loaded by Scott Capurro at Ars Nova Theatre, NYC; The Reduced Shakespeare Company's Completely Hollywood: Abridged(Belgium/Holland Tour); Travesties (American Conservatory Theatre); Around the World in 80 Days (Laguna Playhouse);Putnam County Spelling Bee (San Jose Repertory Theatre);The Fantasticks (SF Playhouse/Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award); Noel & Gertie (BATCC award), Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The Mousetrap, Musical of Musicals(BATCC award), Witness for the Prosecution, and Rumors(Center Repertory Theatre); Old, Wicked Songs (Marin Theatre Company); Chicago, Secret Garden, Judgment at Nuremburg, and A Doll's House (Willows Theatre Company); Machiavelli in The Prince (Central Works); two episodes of the History Channel's Man, Moment, Machine. Member of Actors' Equity Association since 2002. Executive Producer of the Long Day Short Film Festival.
A.J. Holmes (Henry) is making his San Jose Rep debut and recently completed a national tour of Young Frankenstein as Frederick Frankenstein. At the Weston Playhouse in Vermont he appeared as Combeferre in Les Miserables and performed original material for several late night cabarets. He is a composer/actor for viral group Team StarKid, having composed songs for A Very Potter Musical, as well as Me and My Dick, which was the first student musical to chart on Billboard. The StarKid Productions YouTube channel now has roughly 140 million views. Mr. Holmes is a Graduate of the University of Michigan class of 2011.
Kendra Kassebaum (Diana) played the role of Glinda in Wicked on Broadway, in San Francisco and originated the role on the First National Tour (Helen Hayes Award Nominee). Other New York credits include Alan Menken's Tony Nominated Leap of Faith; Rent; The Receptionist (Manhattan Theatre Club) and the Tony award-winning production of Assassins, both directed by Joe Montello. For the Roundabout Theater she performed the role of Petra in A Little Night Music starring Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson. Kendra's regional appearances include Actor's Theater of Louisville, NC Theatre, 5th Ave Theatre, ACT, Ordway, Florida Stage and The Muny. She appeared with Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow in the film The Other Woman and can be heard on the Grammy nominated cast album of Assassins and the upcoming release of Leap of Faith. Kendra is a proud member of Actors Equity.
Andrea Ross (Natalie) is making her San Jose Rep debut. She was seen on the US National Tour of Whistle Down The Wind as the lead, Swallow. She is a native Bostonian, but now resides in New York City where she is a junior at Pace University. In addition to her theatre work, she has a solo album, Moon River, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Favorite regional roles include Sound of Music, Liesl; Floyd Collins, Nellie Collins; Hello Again, Nurse; Ramona Quimby, Ramona; and Lizzie Borden, Young Lizzie. She made special appearances at the Sydmonton Festival in the U.K., Princess Diana Memorial Concert, G4 Farewell Tour, and she was the Marta Understudy in NY Philharmonic's Company, featuring Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, and Stephen Colbert.
Jonathan Shew (Gabe) is happy to be taking the San Jose Rep stage for the first time. He has been seen Off-Broadway in The VOCA PEOPLE (original cast) and Frat: The Musical (Kennedy Center). His Regional work includes All Shook Up (Chad), The Twelve(Andrew); numerous concerts throughout NYC including Jason Robert Brown's Birdland solo concert, where Jonathan sang, "King of the World." He has also done Readings for Dogfight (Fector, 2nd Stage), Chasing The Song, and recorded Thomson and Desmon's Pump Up The Volume (Mark). In addition, Mr. Shew sang backup for Josh Groban for two years.
Brian Yorkey (Playwright) received the 2009 Tony Award for Best Score and was also nominated for Best Book of a Musical for his work on Next to Normal, for which he also became the co-recipient of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Score. Theatre credits include Making Tracks (off-Broadway and regionally), the musical adaptation of Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet, and the country musical Play It By Heart. For seven years he was the associate artistic director at Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington. Yorkey's latest work with collaborator Tom Kitt, In Your Eyes, workshopped at the Village Theatre's Festival of New Musicals in 2010, and he is currently working on a musical theatre piece with Sting based on the singer's concept album The Soul Cages. Yorkey has directed off-Broadway and regionally, and has worked extensively in TV and film where his credits include Time after Time, Love Undercover, Fashion Show, Chase, and Sluts for Lionsgate and Furst Films. He is a graduate of Columbia College, an alumnus of the BMI/Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and WGA.
Tom Kitt (Composer) received two Tony Awards in 2009 for Next to Normal (Best New Score and Best Orchestration), as well as the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (with lyricist Brian Yorkey). His music in Next to Normal also received the 2009 Frederick Loewe Award for Best New Score. He graduated from Columbia College in New York in 1996, where he initially formed his partnership with fellow student Brian Yorkey. Kitt's credits as a composer include the music in High Fidelity (Broadway), From Up Here (MTC), and The Retributionists (Playwrights Horizons), as well as new orchestration for the CTG/DeafWest production of Pippin and numerous original songs for film and television as the leader of the Tom Kitt Band. His show credits as a musical director, conductor, and arranger include Green Day's American Idiot, 13, Hair, Laugh Whore, Urban Cowboy, and Debbie Does Dallas. His string arrangements were also feature on Green Day's Grammy-winning album, 21st Century Breakdown.
David Ira Goldstein (Director and Musical Staging) has previously directed The Kite Runner and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at San Jose Rep, both of which won several Bay Area Critics Awards. He has been the Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company, the largest theatre in the Southwest, for 21 years. For Arizona Theatre Company he has produced over 165 mainstage plays, workshops and presentations, as well as directing over 40 mainstage productions ranging from classics to new plays to musicals including, most recently, a newly revised version of Jane Austen's Emma by Paul Gordon. He was Associate Artistic Director at ACT Theatre in Seattle from 1986 to 1992. He is a frequent guest director at theatres all across the country and his musical, A Marvelous Party, has won the Jeff Award in Chicago, the LA Critics Award, Boston's Elliott Norton Award, and the Bay Area Critics Award.
Christopher McGovern (Original Music Director) New York: Ionescopade, Roadside, Still Getting My Act Together, That's Life (Outer Critics Circle nomination), The Jazz Singer, Breathe, Sheba, The Fishkin Touch among others. National tours include Fame, The Presidents with Rich Little and arrangements for Disney Worldwide (The Lion King/Hong Kong and Aladdin/Tokyo). He is the Author/Composer of Lizzie Borden (Goodspeed), Dr. Radio, Cagney and many original songs, including "Let The Memories Begin," the castle projection show at the US Disney Parks. Favorite Regional: Hair, [title of show], The Pajama Game, Dream A Little Dream, Sisters of Swing (Carbonell nominations), Beehive, Joseph, Little Shop, Godspell, Grease, World Goes 'Round, Last Five Years and Marvelous Party. Producer/Arranger/Orchestrator and Songwriter on recordings by Tony-nominees Rebecca Luker, Susan Egan and Alison Fraser. Concert work with Susan Egan (US tour including Carnegie Hall), Karen Mason, Liz Callaway, Tony-winner Heather Headley and many others.
Dolores Duran-Cefalu (Musical Director) was previously music director/ keyboardist for The Marvelous Wonderettes, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Spring Awakening here at San Jose Rep. She is associate conductor/keyboards for American Conservatory Theater's Tales of the City, music director for California's Great America, and has played in numerous touring shows in San Francisco, including Shrek, West Side Story, Dreamgirls, In the Heights, and Wicked. She also performs at San Francisco's Teatro ZinZanni. Ms. Duran-Cefalu won the Shellie Award for musical direction of Center REP's All Shook Up, also receiving a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle nomination. Currently she is composing/arranging a holiday dinner theater show for Theatre in the Park, Kansas City, while also pursuing a degree in animation!
John Ezell (Scenic Designer) has designed for the Royal Theatre-Copenhagen, the Royal Danish Ballet, Cullberg Ballet, Swedish Riksteater-Stockholm, Theatre Olympics in Istanbul and the Atlanta Olympiad. His designs include Broadway, New York Shakespeare Festival and New York Public Theatre, York Theatre, the Roundabout, Crossroads, Cincinnati Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre-Washington, D.C., the Williamstown, Berkshire and Great Lakes Theatre Festivals, Olde Globe-San Diego, Arizona Theatre Company, Coconut Grove-Miami, Asolo Theatre-Sarasota, Milwaukee, Indiana, St. Louis and Kansas City Repertory Theatres, Westport Country Playhouse, Clarence Brown Theatre-Knoxville, Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Lyric Opera, Blackstone Theatre and Second City Chicago, the Market Theatre-Johannesburg, South Africa and Hong Kong Repertory. He designed for CBS, PBS-TV and Swedish State Television. He's a consultant to the design collection at Yale's Beinecke Library. He has been a guest artist in the Peoples' Republic of China.
Kish Finnegan (Costume Designer) is happy to return to her home town. Raised in San Jose, she now her makes her home in Tucson, Arizona. She previously designed God of Carnage; 2 Pianos, 4 Hands; and the world premiere of The Kite Runner here at San Jose Rep. She is the resident costume designer for Arizona Theatre Company where her recent design credits include Woody Guthrie's American Song, [title of show], Touch the Names, Tuesdays with Morrie, andHair; also Go, Dog. Go!, Lyle the Crocodile, Junie B. Jones, Seussical the Musical, and The Neverending Story for Tempe-based Childsplay. Her work has been seen at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Virginia Stage Company, Cleveland Play House, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, and Florida Stage. Ms. Finnegan has also designed for California Institute of the Arts, Burbank Repertory, and the Chamber Theatre, where she won a Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award. Her most unusual designs have been for Aquacades in Las Vegas, Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia.
David Lee Cuthbert (Lighting and Projection Designer) returns to San Jose Rep, having most recently designed lighting for The Death of The Novel. He previously designed lighting and media for God of Carnage, Love in American Times, Legacy of Light, and Spring Awakening. Mr. Cuthbert also designed scenery and media for Secret Order and As You Like It, and lighting for The Dresser, Rabbit Hole, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Groundswell, and The Kite Runner (for which he received a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award). He lit Billy Crystal's Tony Award- winning 700 Sundays on Broadway and its international tours. Mr. Cuthbert's work has also been seen at Opera San Jose, Arena Stage, South Coast Repertory, Intiman Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe, American Repertory Theater, and Arizona Theatre Company. He is the theater arts department chair and a professor of design at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Steve Schoenbeck (Sound Designer) is happy to be designing at San Jose Rep where his sound designs include (but are not limited to) Freud's Last Session, The Understudy, Spring Awakening, The Dresser, Secret Order, Groundswell, The Foreigner, The Immigrant, Enchanted April, and Humpty Dumpty. Mr. Schoenbeck's sound designs have also been heard in productions with TheatreWorks, American Conservatory Theater, SF Playhouse, Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Stage Company, Culture Clash, and Edinburgh's Assembly Theatre amongst others. He's also designed sound for short films, animation, and mixed numerous musicals. Currently, Mr. Schoenbeck is the Resident Sound Designer and Sound Supervisor at San Jose Rep.
Kathryn Van meter (Assistant Director) is honored to be making her debut at San Jose Rep. Her history with Next to Normal dates back to its very first reading, when it was known as Feeling Electric and choreographed the NYMF production. Kathryn is a resident of Seattle and has worked in that area for the last decade as an actress, director and choreographer at Village Theatre, The 5th Avenue, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre and ACT to name a few. In 2010/2011, Kathryn spent 6 months living in South Africa teaching theatre and dance through ASTEP (Artist's Striving To End Poverty.) She is a proud member of The Sandbox Artist's Collective.
Laxmi Kumaran (Stage Manager) is enjoying her eighth season at San Jose Rep. In the summer months, Ms. Kumaran stage manages at California Shakespeare Theater. Before moving to the Bay Area, she stage managed in Chicago for a variety of theatres, including Goodman Theatre and the Court Theatre. Some of the directors with whom she has had the pleasure of working include Rick Lombardo, Timothy Near, Patricia McGregor, Liesl Tommy, Richard Seer, John McCluggage, Kirsten Brandt, Barbara Damashek, Jonathan Moscone, Michael Butler, Joel Sass, Robert Falls, Mary Zimmerman, David Ira Goldstein, JoAnne Akalaitis, RoBert Woodruff, Karin Coonrod, Gary Griffin, and David Cromer. Ms. Kumaran has taught stage management classes at San Jose State, Northern Illinois, DePaul, and Northwestern Universities, and currently teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Deirdre Rose Holland (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to be back at San Jose Rep, having previously worked on The Death of The Novel, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, A Christmas Carol (2011 & 2012), Spring Awakening, and Legacy of Light. Her regional credits include the 2011 Summer Shakespeare Festival, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and The Mystery of Irma Vep (The Old Globe) and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later and the world premiere of Bonnie and Clyde (La Jolla Playhouse). Additional credits include Anna Karenina and The Barber of Seville (Opera San Jose), and the 2010 Summer Hot Dog Series (Palo Alto Children's Theatre). Ms. Holland holds an MFA in stage management from the University of California, San Diego..
Arizona Theatre Company (Co-Producer), the State Theatre of Arizona, is the leading professional theatre in Arizona and the only resident company in the United States with a two-city operation. Now in its 46th season, over 150,000 people a year attend its performances at the historic Temple of Music and Art in Tucson and the state-of-the-art Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix. Each season reflects the rich variety of world drama-from classics to contemporary plays, from musicals to new works-along with a wide array of outreach programs, educational opportunities, access initiatives, and new play programs. Previous co-productions with San Jose Rep: Freud's Last Session, God of Carnage, Ain't Misbehavin', Pride and Prejudice, The Underpants, Ella, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
San Jose Rep is the flagship theatre of San Jose and the only fully professional, non-profit theatre company in the South Bay, presenting seven main-stage productions each year. Now in its 32nd year as a major contributor to the South Bay's cultural community, San Jose Rep's mission is to engage, entertain, and inspire people. San Jose Rep produces innovative theatrical performances that offer fresh perspectives into the human condition, educational programs that promote lifelong learning, and outreach initiatives that benefit our diverse community. For more information, visit www.SJRep.com.
Photo by Tim Fuller/Arizona Theatre Company.