FST Presents NEXT TO NORMAL 11/2-1/7/2012


Florida Studio Theatre presents the Southeastern Regional Premiere of the contemporary rock musical Next to Normal.

Next to Normal is an emotional powerhouse of a musical about a suburban American family trying to take care of themselves and each other. It features music by by Tom Kitt, with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. It won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards. Performances begin in the Keating Theatre November 2 - January 7.

"When I saw Next to Normal in New York, I knew it was extraordinarily special," said Artistic Director Richard Hopkins, who will also be directing this project. "It's an amazingly, emotionally-challenging, heartbreakingly beautiful show, that says its okay to feel things - it doesn't always have to be happy-go-lucky. At its core, we have a family who loves each other but the question is: can they help each other? Ben Brantley of The New York Times said that this show is more than a feel-good musical; it's a feel-everything musical. That's the best description of the play I've heard."

Next to Normal was chosen as "one of the year's TEN best" by major critics around the country including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Rolling Stone and The New York Times. "A work of muscular grace and power. It is something much more than a feel-good musical; it is a feel-everything musical." - The New York Times

The principal cast is comprised of Broadway actress Stacia Fernandez as Diane, Broadway actor Leo Daignault as Dan, New York actress Ashley Linn Rose as Natalie, Broadway actor Mike Backes as Gabe, New York actor James LaRosa as Henry, and New York actor Scott Guthrie in the roles of Dr. Fine and Dr. Madden.

Stacia Fernandez (Diana) is somewhat of a Broadway veteran, coming to Florida Studio Theatre on leave from the Broadway cast of Mamma Mia (where she'll return in late January). Other Broadway: The Drowsy Chaperone performed the Tony award-winning role, Swing, Tom Sawyer, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Beauty and the Beast; Off- Broadway: Lonestar Love. National tours: Evita, Beauty and the Beast, Jerome Robbins Broadway, Heartstrings. Regional theatre: Lucky Guy, Death of a Salesman, Guys and Dolls, CATS, World Premiere of Prince and the Pauper, Kiss Me Kate, The King and I, Anything Goes, World Premiere of Alan Aykborn's Dreams from a Summer House. Movie soundtracks: The Shaggy Dog, Enchanted.

Leo Daignault (Dan) has appeared on Broadway in Avenue Q and toured nationally with Avenue Q, The Full Monty, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Miss Saigon. Mr. Daignault originated the role of Jinx in Plaid Tidings at Pasadena Playhouse and in Forever Plaid in Boston, San Diego, Tokyo and Chicago, where he won an Ollie Award for best vocal performance by a male. His film and television credits include How to Marry a Billionaire: A Christmas Tale, "The Sopranos," "Silk Stalkings" and "Pensacola: Wings of Gold." He was also one of Rosie's Broadway Boys appearing on "The View" and "The Rachael Ray Show".

ASHLEY PICCIALLO (Natalie) is a graduate of Montclair State University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Select Theatre Credits: Hair (Sheila Franklin); Side Show (Daisy Hilton); Cold As Ice (Laurie Beechman Theatre, Producer Nancy Kerrigan); NJ Premiere of See What I Wanna See (Kesa/Wife/Actress); Always... Patsy Cline (Patsy Cline); and the NY Knicks Halftime Show at Madison Square Garden. TV Credits: NBC's America's Most Talented Kid (Finalist). Ashley is also a singer songwriter and has self-released two albums.

Mike Backes (Gabe) Original cast Jersey Boys Las Vegas (Swing), Tours: Rock Of Ages (Joey Primo), Footloose (Ren), Grease starring Frankie Avalon, (U/S Danny/Ensemble). Regional: Rent (Roger), Jesus Christ Superstar (Peter), My Way (Young Frank), Smokey Joe's Cafe (White Guy) and most recently was lucky enough to become a member of The Broadway Boys of New York City.

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