Opening Mixed Blood Theatre's 37th season is the winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama, NEXT TO NORMAL, described as "a breathtaking rock production that reveals one family’s struggle with mental illness." Artistic Director Jack Reuler directs the powerhouse musical, which was also nominated for 11 Tony Awards. Next to Normal, with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, opens October 5 and runs through November 11 at Mixed Blood’s historic firehouse theatre on the West Bank, 1501 S. Fourth St. in Minneapolis.
Next to Normal tells the story of Diana Goodman (Aditi Kapil), a mother battling bipolar disorder, and the effect the illness has on her family. Her kaleidoscope of feelings—anger, yearning, sorrow, loss and guilt—coexist in every note in this contemporary musical of muscular grace and operatic force. Unflinchingly honest yet still hopeful, Next to Normal is a feel-everything musical that packs a seismic emotional punch with the electric momentum of a heavy metal concert, the lyricism of a music box and the twanging heartbreak of a country ballad.
Mixed Blood veterans are showcased in the Next to Normal cast including Ivey Award-winning actors Thomas Jones II (Yellowman), who stars as Diana's husband, Dan, and Regina Marie Williams (Ruined) as psychiatrist Dr. Madden. Brittany Bradford (Avenue Q, Neighbors) plays Diana and Dan’s daughter, Natalie. The cast also features the talents of Tom Reed (Henry), David Simmons (Dr. Fine) and Ricardo Vázquez (Gabe). The design team of Karin Olson (lights), Joe Stanley (scenic) and Wendall Bell (sound) is enhanced by newcomer Mallory Nelson (costumes). Musical Director Jason Hansen and choreographer Marcela Lorca round out a creative team familiar with Mixed Blood and its Alan Page Auditorium.
Director Jack Reuler said, “In my pursuit of the best plays in the land that highlight the intersection of disability, theatre, class and race, I have sought permission to produce Next to Normal since 2008. As the script evolved from New York City’s Second Stage to D.C.’s Arena Stage to Broadway, my enthusiasm for this musical as a voice for the unheard millions who have or are influenced by mental illness has magnified. Great theatre that can be a vehicle for artistry, entertainment, education and affecting change in attitude, behavior and policy is a rarity. Next To Normal is one of those uncommon jewels.”
A preview of Next to Normal will be held Thursday, October 4 at 7:30 p.m.; the show opens Friday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m. and continues through Sunday, November 11. Performances are Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with 3:00 p.m. matinees on Sundays.
Mixed Blood’s Transportation Fund allows for anyone self-identifying as a person with a disability to receive free taxi service to and from the theatre via Red & White Cab. Those interested should contact the Mixed Blood Box Office at 612.338.6131 to utilize this complimentary service.
Access Night, with ASL interpreting, audio description and captioning for the hearing impaired provided, is Saturday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m. All performances will be captioned in English with projected supertitles. An Industry Night, with an insider talk-back following the show, will be on Monday, November 5 at 7:30 pm. After every performance, Mixed Blood offers a FREE FOR(U)M, where audience members and staff hold post-show conversations. At the SUNDAY SALONS (following each Sunday matinee), panels of specialists lead the discussion.
There are two ways to attend a Next to Normal performance: 1) No-cost admission: To access these free seats, audience members register in the lobby in exchange for admission (Box Office opens two hours prior to the show). 2) Guaranteed admission: Audience members can guarantee entry for an individual performance by paying a $20 fee online at www.mixedblood.com or by calling the box office at (612) 338-6131. General admission seating begins 30 minutes before show time and is first-come, first-served. All performances are in the Alan Page Auditorium at Mixed Blood’s historic firehouse theatre at 1501 S. 4th St., Minneapolis.