NEXT TO NORMAL Headed to Broadway's Longacre Theater, Previews Start March 27

By: Feb. 17, 2009
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Producers David Stone, James L. Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo, and Second Stage Theatre have announced that the original musical, Next to Normal, will come to Broadway this spring, direct from its critically-acclaimed engagement at Washington D.C.'s Arena Stage, beginning preview performances at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street) on Friday, March 27th and officially opening on Wednesday, April 15.

Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's musical, Next to Normal, directed by Michael Greif (Rent, Grey Gardens), opened at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre on February 13, 2008 and was significantly reworked in a subsequent out-of-town run at Washington D.C.'s Arena Stage, where it opened on December 10, 2008. The musical's unusual trajectory from a New York Off-Broadway premiere to an out-of-town regional theatre engagement and then back to Broadway is unprecedented.

"Anyone who has been involved with the creation of an original musical knows that much of the work happens in the rewriting," says producer David Stone. "From the day after Next to Normal opened off-Broadway through opening night at Arena Stage, Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey, and Michael Greif were committed to improving and rewriting this show with a level of dedication and focus I have seldom seen from a creative team. The path to Broadway for Next to Normal has been highly unconventional and, in retrospect, the best thing that could have happened to this musical."

"A second chance is something you rarely get as a writer," explains composer Tom Kitt. "While the critical response to Next to Normal at Second Stage was encouraging, we knew there were major changes we had to make to the show. Brian and I really listened to the critical response and the audience reaction and were fortunate to have the chance to keep working. We've written five new songs and cut substantial material that was not landing. The result is the musical that Brian and I always wanted it to be."

In his review of the Arena Stage production, Peter Marks of The Washington Post, wrote, "Next to Normal is a moving, blisteringly honest, and inordinately powerful new musical, sung with a wallop by a six-member cast that includes the astonishing Alice Ripley, and dexterously directed by Michael Greif. Writers Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey have stocked the musical with beautiful songs that get to the heart of the story- and simply get to the heart." And Jayne Blanchard in The Washington Times called the show, "A transcendent production of a powerful new American musical with a bristling, contemporary rock score, smart lyrics and raw energy. ««««"
Next to Normal is a contemporary musical that explores how one suburban household copes with crisis. With provocative lyrics and an electrifying score of more than 30 original songs, Next to Normal shows how far two parents will go to keep themselves sane and their family's world intact.

In order to maintain the necessary intimacy for this six-person musical, the second balcony of the Longacre Theatre will be closed for the entire run of Next to Normal, providing an intimate setting of 820 seats.

Next to Normal recently received five Helen Hayes Award nominations for its Arena Stage engagement, including Outstanding Non-Resident Production, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non-Resident Production (Alice Ripley), Outstanding Lead Actor in a Non-Resident Production (J. Robert Spencer), and Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Non-Resident Production (Aaron Tveit and Jennifer Damiano).

For its sold-out Second Stage Theatre engagement, Next to Normal won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Score and also received the following accolades: Lucille Lortel Award nominations for Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Featured Actor (Aaron Tveit), and Outstanding Lighting Design (Kevin Adams); Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley) and Outstanding Music; Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical and Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley); and a Drama League nomination for Outstanding Musical, among others.

The Broadway production will feature the entire Arena Stage cast: Alice Ripley, J. Robert Spencer, Aaron Tveit, Jennifer Damiano, Adam Chanler-Berat, and Louis Hobson. Ripley, Tveit, Damiano, and Chanler-Berat were also in the Second Stage Theatre production.
Next to Normal features set design by Mark Wendland, costume design by Jeff Mahshie, lighting design by Kevin Adams, and sound design by Brian Ronan. Musical staging is by Sergio Trujillo and musical direction by Charlie Alterman. Orchestrations are by Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt and vocal arrangements by AnnMarie Milazzo.


Next to Normal will be performed at the Longacre Theatre (222 West 48th street) on the following schedule: Tuesday - Saturday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 3pm & 7:30pm. Tickets, priced $25.00 - $115.00, are available now and can be purchased at or by calling 212-239-6200. The box office will officially open on March 2.

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Alice Ripley received Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk award nominations for her performance in the Second Stage Theatre premiere production of Next to Normal. Her original Broadway cast credits include King David (Disney), Side Show (Tony, Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress in a Musical), The Rocky Horror Show, James Joyce's The Dead, Sunset Boulevard and The Who's Tommy. Off-Broadway and regional: Tell Me on a Sunday (Kennedy Center, Helen Hayes Award nomination), Company (Kennedy Center, Helen Hayes Award nomination), Shakespeare in Hollywood (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes Award nomination), Five Flights (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), The Vagina Monologues, Li'l Abner (Encores!), Cather County (Playwrights Horizons), Rock Shore (O'Neill Theatre Center) and The Baker's Wife (Paper Mill Playhouse). With her band Ripley ( she has recorded Everything's Fine (2001, Sh-K-Boom Records), Ripley EP (2003) and Outtasite (2006).

J. Robert Spencer was in the original cast of Jersey Boys as Nick Massi, and also appeared on Broadway in Side Show. He has toured in Heartland, Cats, Finian's Rainbow and Tommy. Off-Broadway: Weird Romance; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Regional: Jersey Boys (La Jolla), Lucky Duck (Old Globe), Romeo and Juliet (Ordway). TV: All My Children, Girls Behaving Badly. Animated films: Grave of the Fireflies, Nightmare Campus. Independent films: starred in Night of the Dog, (Audience Award, Palm Beach Festival; Audience Award, Best Supporting Actor, SMMASH Festival). In 2004, Mr. Spencer began an independent film company, 7 Spencer Productions. His feature film Farm Girl in New York-which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in-will be released on DVD/cable in January of 2009. His second feature, Heterosexuals, wrapped in the summer of 2008. He also recently performed with the Boston Pops for Handel's Messiah Rocks, which recently aired on PBS.

Aaron Tveit received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for his performance in the Second Stage Theatre premiere production of Next to Normal. He is currently performing on Broadway in Wicked (Fiyero), adding to his other Broadway credit as Link Larkin in Hairspray. Mr. Tveit has toured nationally with Hairspray and Rent. Off- Broadway and Regional: Saved (Playwrights Horizons), Three Musketeers (NSMT), Calvin Berger (Barrington Stage). Pre-Broadway Workshop: Catch Me If You Can. Film: Ghost Town. TV: The Verdict (Lifetime).

Jennifer Damiano started performing at the age of 10 in community theatre in Westchester, NY. Regional: Oliver! (Bet, WBT). She began working professionally in NYC when she was 12 performing in The American Girl Revue (original cast) and numerous national commercials/voiceovers. Ms. Damiano made her Broadway debut in Spring Awakening as the youngest member of the original cast at the age of 15 (Ensemble/Swing: Ilse, Martha, Thea, Anna).

Adam Chanler-Berat appeared on Broadway in the final performance of Les Misérables. Recent workshops include A Civil War Christmas (dir. Tina Landau), Calvin Berger (Manhattan Theatre Club) and Dani Girl (dir. John Carrafa). Regional credits include Mae West at Club El Fae; Honk; Pippin; You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown; Lord of the Flies. TV/film: Law & Order, The Life Before Her Eyes.

Louis Hobson made his East Coast stage debut with the Arena Stage production of Next to Normal. Regional: Cabaret (Cliff), Evita (Che, Footlight Award), West Side Story (Tony, Footlight Award), Miss Saigon (Chris), HAIR (Claude, Footlight Award), Pippin (Pippin), Assassins (Czolgosz), Stupid Kids (Neechee, Footlight Award), Songs for a New World, Rocky Horror (Brad) and Gentlemen Prefer Blonds (Henry, with Faith Prince and Lucy Lawless).

Tom Kitt is the composer and co-orchestrator of High Fidelity (Broadway) and Next to Normal, which received the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New Score, as well as Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Drama League nominations. He composed the original music for From Up Here (MTC), and his songs with the Tom Kitt Band ( have been featured in film and TV. As musical director, conductor and arranger, Mr. Kitt has worked on several Broadway and off-Broadway shows, including 13, Laugh Whore, Urban Cowboy, and Debbie Does Dallas. He recently did the orchestrations for Pippin at Mark Taper Forum.

Brian Yorkey's 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 and TV include the feature Time After Time, which is currently in development at Universal; Love Undercover for Overture; and is co-creator of "Bears," a new series for the Logo Network. Brian has directed off-Broadway and regionally, and for seven years was Associate Artistic Director at Village Theatre in Washington state. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the WGA.

Michael Greif was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical for both Rent and Grey Gardens. Other Broadway: Never Gonna Dance. Recent: Three Sisters (Williamstown), Boys' Life (Second Stage), Romeo and Juliet (NYSF), Courtney Baron's A Very Common Procedure (MCC), Diana Son's Satellites (Public), John Guare's Landscape of the Body (Signature), Noah Haidle's Mr. Marmalade (Roundabout), Nilo Cruz's Beauty of the Father (MTC). NYSF: Suzan-Lori Parks' f-ing A, Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters (Obie), Jose Rivera's Marisol, Pericles, Connie Congdon's Casanova, Tony Kushner's A Bright Room Called Day, Sophie Treadwell's Machinal (Obie). NYTW (Artistic Associate): Kate Ryan's adaptation of Cavedweller; Paul Scott Goodman's Bright Lights, Big City; Rent (Obie). Other Off-Broadway: Neal Bell's Spatter Pattern (Playwrights Horizons), LaBute's The Distance From Here (MCC), Betty Rules (Zipper), Guare's A Few Stout Individuals (Signature), Bell's Monster (CSC). Selected regional: La Jolla Playhouse (Artistic Director 1995-1999): Our Town, Sweet Bird of Youth, Son's Boy, Randy Newman's Faust (also Goodman), Kushner's Slavs (also Taper), Bell's Therese Raquin. Williamstown: Kaufman and Hart's Once in a Lifetime, Rice's Street Scene, Coward's Tonight at 8:30, Chekhov's The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard. This spring, Michael will direct the world premiere of Tony Kushner's new work, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures at the Guthrie Theatre.