Marya Sea Kaminski to Star in Balagan Theatre and Contemporary Classics' NEXT TO NORMAL, Feb 2013

Marya-Sea-Kaminski-to-Star-in-NEXT-TO-NORMAL-20010101

Returning home for its first local Seattle production, the Tony Award-winning rock musical Next to Normal will be co-produced in February 2013 by award-winning companies Balagan Theatre and Contemporary Classics. Starring in the pivotal leading role will be one of Seattle's most regarded actors, Marya Sea Kaminski, in her first musical.

The cast also features Keaton Whittaker, Auston James, Kody Bringman, Ryan McCabe, and Ryan Hotes. Contemporary Classics artistic director Brandon Ivie will direct, with music direction by R.J. Tancioco.

A truly original musical by Tom Kitt and Issaquah native Brian Yorkey, the show ran on Broadway for almost two years; won three Tony Awards, including Best Score and Best Leading Actress; and became the eighth musical in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Playing the central role of bipolar delusional matriarch Diana Goodman is Marya Sea Kaminski in the first musical role of her career. One of Seattle's most lauded actors, Kaminski has received a Stranger Genius Award, two Seattle Times Footlight Awards, a Gregory Award, and has been named "Artist of the Year" by Seattle magazine, as well as "Best Local Stage Actor" and "Best Performing Artist" by the readers of the Seattle Weekly.

Known for her work in hard-hitting powerful roles, Kaminski has been seen as Hedda Gabler (both in Intiman's recent Hedda Gabler and Washington Ensemble Theatre's blahblahblahBANG!); the title role in Seattle Shakespeare Company's production of Electra; and the American premiere of My Name is Rachel Corrie at Seattle Repertory Theatre. She has created more than 20 solo shows and has performed her original work at Bumbershoot and On the Boards in Seattle; PS 122 in New York; the Myrna Loy Center in Helena; the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland; and most recently at the Richard Hugo House with Riddled. She is also a founding artistic director of Washington Ensemble Theatre.

On the role of Diana Goodman, Kaminski says, "When I first saw Next to Normal my heart leaned forward toward the role of Diana Goodman - to her pain, her humor, her formidable strength of character - and I've long been an admirer of Brandon Ivie's directorial work, so the opportunity to collaborate with him on this incredible story seems like a perfect storm. Working on a musical theater role of this magnitude will be both a refreshing departure and a welcome challenge for me. I cannot wait to step inside this world and live inside those songs."

As Diana's troubled daughter Natalie, Keaton Whittaker makes her return to the Seattle stage after spending almost two years on Broadway in the Trevor Nunn-directed, Tony Award-winning revival of A Little Night Music starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. A 16-year old dynamo, she was discovered at age 10 by The 5th Avenue Theatre in their first production of White Christmas and has since had such local credits as Shrek, Sunday in the Park with George and Whistle Down the Wind (5th Avenue Theatre), and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird (Intiman Theatre).

Playing opposite Ms. Kaminski as her supportive husband Dan is longtime Seattle actor and Footlight Award winner Auston James. James gave a thrilling performance in last summer's developmental production of the psychological thriller Cloaked (Village Theatre) and has performed at almost every professional theatre in Seattle, including Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT, Seattle Opera, and Seattle Children's Theatre.

Playing Diana's sterling son is rising Seattle star Kody Bringman. At age 22, Bringman is currently starring in another rock musical as the title character in the Northwest premiere of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (ArtsWest Playhouse). Other credits include Balagan Theatre's Spring Awakening, Seattle Musical Theatre's Hairspray and Village Theatre's recent The Toymaker.

Rounding out the cast as a myriad of Diana's doctors is familiar face Ryan McCabe, whose credits include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (ArtsWest), Chicago (Seattle Musical Theatre), and several of Contemporary Classics' New Voices concerts; as well as 17-year-old Newport High School senior Ryan Hotes, making his professional debut as Natalie's boyfriend Henry.

Director Brandon Ivie has a special connection to Next to Normal, having worked on the original Broadway production as assistant to its award-winning writers Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt.

"Brian Yorkey has been one of my biggest mentors for more than 10 years. I have been in love with Next to Normal since I saw a workshop of the show under the name Feeling Electric at Village Theatre," said Ivie. "Having worked on the original Broadway production, I have so much respect for Michael Greif, Alice Ripley and the work that entire team did with their incarnation. I'm so looking forward to bringing this show back to its Seattle roots and making a new, homegrown production that has the same spirit of fierce, thrilling storytelling as the original… but with our own fresh flavor."

Ivie has been called a "musical theatre wunderkind" who, by age 27, has already directed the record-breaking Cinderella at The 5th Avenue Theatre, and will have worked on three Broadway shows, including assistant directing the upcoming A Christmas Story. He founded Contemporary Classics in 2003 as a senior in high school, and has since directed or produced lauded Seattle premieres of The Yellow Wood, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Zanna, Don't!, The Last Five Years, and tick, tick… BOOM!, among others. He is the recipient of two Seattle Times Footlight Awards and the 2010 Gregory Award for Person to Watch. Most recently, Ivie was a member of the prestigious 2012 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.

Providing music direction will be Gregory Award-winning music director R.J. Tancioco, who most recently helmed The 5th Avenue's reconceived production of RENT. Other credits include Music Supervisor for the smash hit Spring Awakening at Balagan Theatre; Music Director/Conductor for the 5th Avenue Theatre's productions of HAIR, Smokey Joe's Café, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cabaret, Dreamgirls, ACT Theatre's First Date, and Village Theatre's productions of Annie Get Your Gun, Iron Curtain, Cloaked, and the upcoming Trails. His regional credits include San Jose Repertory Theatre, American Musical Theatre of San Jose, Theatre Under the Stars, The Ordway Center and Manhattan Theatre Club.

Designing lights will be Gregory Award nominee Robert J. Aguilar. Aguilar has been one of the busiest lighting designers in Seattle, most recently designing lights for Seattle Repertory Theatre's I Am My Own Wife and Of Mice and Men; The 5th Avenue's Titanic; ACT Theatre's The Lady with All the Answers; and Balagan's hit production of Spring Awakening. He is also the managing director of Contemporary Classics.

Gregory Award nominee Pete Rush, who just made his 5th Avenue Theatre debut designing their new production of RENT, will design costumes. His recent credits include Washington Ensemble Theatre's Bed Snake, Seattle Shakespeare's Hamlet and Electra, and New Century Theatre Company's smash The Adding Machine. Aguilar and Rush will co-design the set.

Tom Kitt (Composer) received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as two Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations (with Michael Starobin), for Next to Normal. His music for Next to Normal also received the 2009 Frederick Loewe Award for dramatic composition and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Score.

Kitt is responsible for the music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations for Green Day's American Idiot on Broadway and the show's Grammy Award winning cast album, and was also the string arranger on their most recent album 21st Century Breakdown. Tom is also the composer of High Fidelity (Broadway), The Winter's Tale and All's Well That Ends Well (The Public's NYSF), From Up Here (MTC), The Retributionists (Playwrights Horizons), and is the co/composer with Lin-Manuel Miranda for Bring it On, The Musical (currently on Broadway). As a musical director, conductor, arranger, and orchestrator for Broadway, Off-Broadway and beyond, his credits include 13, Debbie Does Dallas, Everyday Rapture, Hair, Laugh Whore, Pippin (Deaf West), and Urban Cowboy. He is the proud leader of the Tom Kitt Band, whose songs have been featured in film and TV.

Brian Yorkey (Librettist/Lyricist) received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the 2009 Tony Award for Best Score, for Next to Normal. Brian was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Next to Normal, and his work on the show earned him the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Score.

Theatre credits include Making Tracks, which has played off-Broadway and regionally, the musical adaptation of Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet and the country musical Play It By Heart. Film projects in active development include Score! for Team Downey and Warner Bros., Time After Time for Summit, Love Undercover for Pandemonium Films, and Chase for Anonymous Content and Rosenzweig Films. New theater projects in development include IF, with Next to Normal collaborator Tom Kitt, for producer David Stone and The Last Ship, with Sting. Brian has directed off-Broadway and regionally and for seven years was associate artistic director at Village Theatre in Washington state, one of the nation's leading producers of new musicals. He's a graduate of Columbia University, where he was artistic director of the Varsity Show, an alum of the BMI/Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the WGA.

Contemporary Classics is dedicated to the production and development of new, contemporary musicals. CC has produced the Seattle premieres of Zanna, Don't! (The Seattle Times Footlight Award), john & jen, The Last Five Years, A New Brain, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and the new musical The Yellow Wood. In addition, CC produces the wildly popular New Voices series at Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre and Balagan Theatre, a songwriter showcase that brings Seattle some of musical theatre's brightest up-and-coming writers, all performed by local singers; and Showtune Suckapunch, a new musical development program that gives writers six weeks to create a new piece of material with a director and two weeks to workshop and showcase that material. This program has produced the world premiere readings of Over Seas by Orlando Morales and Razia's Shadow by Thomas Dutton, Paul Dutton and Lonnie Angle. For more information, visit www.contemporaryclassics.org.

Formed to embrace the immense talents of local theatre artists, Balagan Theatre strives to create smart and fearless theatre of the highest artistic quality. Since the first production six years ago, Balagan has grown from another upstArt Theatre into one of the more exciting and successful theatre companies in Seattle, now in their new home at the Erickson Theatre on Capitol Hill. From Footlight-award winning shows like Arabian Nights, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Picasso at the Lapin Agile to "Best of the Year" productions like Spring Awakening, Elephant's Graveyard, and Big Love, Balagan is known for consistent artistic success no matter what genre or period of theatre is being tackled. With a mission to develop new audiences for theatre, the entire community finds something for them at Balagan. For more information, visit www.balagantheatre.org.

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