BWW Blog: The Trojan Players' NEXT TO NORMAL - Another Day Part 3, 2/24

BWW Blog: The Trojan Players' NEXT TO NORMAL - Another Day Part 3, 2/24 Meet Chris Distler, Julianna Keller and Nick Parkinson, who are playing the roles of Henry, Dr. Madden, and Dr. Fine in Next to Normal. Find out what's so exciting about working on this piece, and how their characters will be different in this production!

Chris Distler:

First off, I am incredibly excited to be a part of Next to Normal, especially playing the role of Henry!

BWW Blog: The Trojan Players' NEXT TO NORMAL - Another Day Part 3, 2/24
Chris Distler

As a male high school student, I already have two extremely direct ways in which I connect to the role of Henry. However, even though I don't smoke weed, skip class, or think that the planet is doomed, I have much more in common with the character than one would think. Henry is someone who doesn't exactly know his place in the world, but he does have his passions that influence his decisions.

I also have my passions, and they definitely change the way I think about approaching this character. I have only ever played one other teenage role, but it was Tommy Djilas from The Music Man, and I just played him off as goofy. With this role I have a lot more freedom that I can utilize. Natalie's love interest, Henry, is almost opposite of him, because he is a bad influence at first, and then there is basically a reversal of roles.

That's what I love about this show: it isn't normal. Now I understand that sounds stupid, because of the show's title, but I love that actors have unlimited choices when working on the show. It really works when we all have relevant backgrounds and different emotions to bring to the characters, rather than just playing another role. I am excited to watch this production unfold, and I hope you will come see us!

Julianna Keller:

BWW Blog: The Trojan Players' NEXT TO NORMAL - Another Day Part 3, 2/24
Julianna Keller

Hana, our director, talked to me about a year ago and said, "I think I'm gonna try and direct a production of Next to Normal." I thought it was a great idea, and encouraged her to pursue the idea whole heartedly, but I have to admit, I had no idea how we would actually produce this incredibly difficult and demanding show. I've done theatre since I was 5, and in all of the productions I'd done, there has always been "adult" direction and control. Right away, Hana started work on her senior project proposal, pulling together all of the resources and people she had available to create circumstances where this really could happen. As it became more tangible, Hana asked me if I would play the part of Dr. Madden in the production, and, of course, I said yes!

Separating the doctor roles and making Dr. Madden a female definitely changes the way the character functions. While I can, and will, sing most of the music in its original key, Charlie H. Ray, our musical director, has given me a chance to use my high belt in several songs, which will bring a different dynamic to the music! Where the Dr. becomes a rock star, I will become a sort of Joan Jett who lets a couple of belted Fs loose, which really excites me! Also, while there is usually a sexual tension between both doctors and Diana, my doctor role will be able to highlight different aspects of Diana, her interaction with the world outside of her family, and the treatment itself. I think this change will allow the audience different perspective, and will benefit the integrity of the production.

As an actor, I find it much easier to embody characters through their relationship with the world around them, rather than by micro-analysis of the characters themselves. I also find the organic process of discovery and experimentation throughout rehearsals to create more natural performance on stage. However, I think with this show, since I am, in effect, completely reinterpreting the concept of Dr. Madden, it's helpful for me to pin down general concepts I want the new Dr. Madden to portray.

In place of sexual tension, I'd like to try making Dr. Madden a somewhat conservative, more quiet-spoken character. I think this will create an interesting balance with Diana's interaction with the rest of the characters, and while I, at least, find it much easier to side with Diana in the show, I want the audience to see another side of the "treatment team" that is more gentle. I'd also like to play up the difference between Fine and Madden by highlighting the attention to emotional and mental response in contrast to Fine's extensive use of medication. I'm excited about making choices with everyone, Kate especially, to create depth to our scenes. We'll see what other things develop as we continue to work together!

Nick Parkinson

BWW Blog: The Trojan Players' NEXT TO NORMAL - Another Day Part 3, 2/24
Nick Parkinson

Hi. So I'm Nick, and I'm playing the role of Dr. Fine in The Trojan Players' production of Next to Normal. I have been acting for at least six years now, and I have done maybe eight shows in total. I have been having a lot of fun with Next to Normal. I love the songs; the way they kinda flow and flip and whoosh around gives of a vibe that I love. The show's coming along well. The cast is fun and talented, and I love just working on the show with them. They are what drives the show forward. But the show is just so much fun to work on! I have never worked on a show like this before - it's so unique, so intricate. It's just so much fun!

I have been working on shows for about six years now and I have loved every step of the way. I started my career with Honk! Jr, where I was a ensemble member, and I loved every bit of theater. Acting, singing, dancing - and all the people I met were so kind and helpful. That was actually the first time I met Kate, Chris Miller and Charlie. I kept acting until high school where I was able to act with Chris, Kate and Charlie again in Sweeney Todd. I have done a couple of Shakespearean shows in the summers. The most recent was Romeo and Juliet, where my friend Will and I started the show with sword fights and dirty jokes. That is what I've always loved about acting: every time I do a show, I always learn something new and have one of the best times of my life. Acting is my way of life - I can never let go of it. I've met so many good people from these experiences. This is why I really wanted to be a part of Next to Normal: the people and the experiences are too good to pass up. It's just so much fun to work on a show and, if it's strange, it gets so much better.

This cast has a really good chemistry and I think we all are having a great time with it. I really want to play up the serious, yet insane tone of the show. I mean, the main character is going insane (the music shows that), I want to play with that with my role. I like how the show remains serious while still having that strange tone. For example, a song like "Who's Crazy/My Psychopharmacologist and I" is able to show that sad, crazy tone. I'm not really sure about what I want to do with my character yet. However, I think that he should be a light in the darkness, or a way out. But like I said, I'm not sure. I do know that the tenor part is just so much fun to sing. The songs are crazy good and just beautiful.

I believe that this show will be fantastic. The cast is great, Charlie is doing a great job with the music, and the show is moving surprisingly well. I really am glad for the opportunity to play this role as a freshman, and I think that this show will really teach me so much. Thanks everybody! If you read this far, you get a prize: an internet five! Yeah! Okay... just leave me hanging, that's cool. Anyhoo, thanks for supporting, and I hope you keep tabs on us as we boldly go where no one else has gone before! (Yes I know someone has, and they did a great job...)

Thanks for staying tuned to our blog! Very soon, this cast and creative team will start a vlog series - look for "The Trojan Players" on YouTube!

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Guest Blogger: NEXT TO NORMAL The Trojan Players are the group of talented, high-school actors who perform under the umbrella of Trinity Valley School. However, this marks the first time (since Gene Sessa’s arrival as resident director) that the Trojan Players will put on a musical production with only students performing and directing. This small cast, rock musical is the perfect outlet for senior Hana Smith to produce astounding theatre and blaze the trail for future student-led productions. Not only are these students putting on a difficult show, but they are also directing and producing it entirely on their own. Follow this talented group as they embark on the journey that is “Next to Normal”.

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