BWW Blog: The Trojan Players' NEXT TO NORMAL - Another Day Part 2, 2/17

Meet Charlie H. Ray and Maggie Jorgenson, who are playing the roles of Gabe and Natalie in Next to Normal. Find out why they're in love with the show, and what it's been like to live inside the dream that is Next to Normal!

Charlie H. Ray:

Have you ever gotten a chance to play one of your dream roles? It's thrilling. Surreal, almost. Some mornings I wake up and cannot believe that I'm really playing Gabe in Next to Normal. That may sound like hyperbole, but it's not-this show is so prestigious, and this character is so iconic. I couldn't think of a more exciting role to play on stage!

That being said, I couldn't think of a more difficult role to play on stage. Vocally, this role is a delicious nightmare. The music is so fun, energetic, and beautiful, but what it requires of the voice is insane. I consider this role to be the true test of a tenor-if you can make it through a run of the show (without severe nodes and other assorted vocal damage) then you're doing something right! I am a singer first, so usually when I get a role, I'll look at the music and knock it out of the way as soon as possible. Though I'm employing the same strategy for Next to Normal, it's taking much more time. I have to dissect my vocal placement on literally every note in the entire show to make sure I'm singing safely and beautifully!

Charlie H. Ray

I'm also pumped to be playing a modern-day male teenager for the first time in my entire life! Of course, as actors, our job is to apply truth to any story, despite time or place. However, we use things like accents and posture to suggest setting-so often we get accidentally caught up in playing the setting that we forget about the story. In Next to Normal, for the first time ever, I am pretty much my character. Of course, there are emotions that I've got to learn, experiences that I've never come close to having, but, on the outside, I am my character. It's going to be exciting (and a bit scary) knowing that the audience is truly seeing a teenage boy, not just seeing his make-up or hair, or dissecting his accent.

I'm also running double duty in this show-I'm the music director! It's a job I really love to do. While some people shudder at the thought of learning (or teaching) harmonies, I totally eat it up!

Now that you've met Kate and Chris, I think now would be the appropriate time to share a cool fact about our history on stage together. I first embarked on my theatre journey in the 6th grade playing Ugly in a production of Honk! Jr. Who played my parents? None other than Kate and Chris themselves! We've been a family trifecta for as long as I can remember. In fact, Chris and I are currently working on a play, Metamorphoses, in which he is playing my father again! The great thing about doing theatre with people you have performed with before is the exploration you get to do-molding your performing history into a new, fresh set of characters and relationships (or in this case, old relationships!).

The best part about Next to Normal is that everyone is doing everything. I'm playing Gabe, I'm music-directing, I'm on the costume team, and I designed the set that we're using. Everything is so inclusive! As a cast and creative team, we have all agreed to take this journey together and climb inside this beautiful show, and now each and every one of us is building it from the inside out. I cannot think of theatre in a better form than this. So collaborative, so creative, so real.

I hope you'll stay tuned with us to follow us on our production journey!

Maggie Jorgenson

Maggie Jorgenson:

I first saw Next to Normal my freshman year of high school, and I fell in love with the music, the book, and the entire show. The characters are very 3D and complex in ways that allow the actors to dig deep into the mind of the play. When Hana first approached me about playing Natalie, I'm pretty sure I didn't even say anything-I just started dancing down the hallway singing "It's Gonna Be Good". Now that we have started rehearsals and character analysis, it's very surreal that we lucky few get to work on such a popular, well-crafted show.

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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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