Kendra Kassebaum, Joe Cassidy and More to Star in NEXT TO NORMAL at San Jose Rep, 1/10-2/3

December 19
7:28 2012


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 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:

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.


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by Peter Danish