NEXT TO NORMAL'S J. Robert Spencer Receives Honorary Degree From Shenandoah Univ

NEXT TO NORMAL'S J. Robert Spencer Receives Honorary Degree From Shenandoah Univ

J. ROBERT SPENCER, one of the stars of the new Broadway musical NEXT TO NORMAL, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from his alma mater, Shenandoah University. Spencer is a 1991 cum laude graduate of Shenandoah Conservatory's musical theatre program.

Spencer starred as the original Nick Massi in the Broadway hit Jersey Boys and has also appeared on Broadway in Side Show. His regional credits include Next to Normal at Arena Stage (Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor) and he has toured with the musicals Heartland, Cats, Finian's Rainbow, and Tommy. His film credits include Night of the Dog (Audience Award winner at Palm Beach, Santa Barbara, and nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the SMMASH Film Festival), Farm Girl in New York (official selection for Atlanta, Big Apple, Seattle and nominated for Best Comedy in Sacramento). His company, 7 Spencer Productions, recently wrapped their second film, titled Heterosexuals. His TV credits include "Law & Order," "All My Children," and "Girls Behaving Badly," and he recently performed with the Boston Pops for Handel's Messiah Rocks available on CD/DVD by Sony Masterworks this fall.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times calls Next to Normal "a brave, breathtaking musical. A work of muscular grace and power." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone raves, "Rock is alive and rolling like thunder in Next to Normal. It is the best musical of the season by a mile. Next time you think the Broadway musical is dead, head off to Next to Normal. It'll pin you to your seat." Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News proclaims it is "next to wondrous - hopeful and uplifting, Next to Normal is an exceptional show that says something meaning and powerful." Adam Feldman of Time Out New York calls it "surprising and moving, a thoughtful, emotional musical for grown-ups" and Robert Feldberg of The Record raves that Next to Normal is "an exciting leap into the possibilities of musical theater."

Next to Normal also features Alice Ripley, Aaron Tveit, Jennifer Damiano, Adam Chanler-Berat, and Louis Hobson.

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.

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

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 is performed at the Booth Theatre (222 West 45th street) on the following schedule: Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday - Saturday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 3pm & 7:30pm. Tickets, priced $25.00 - $115.00, will be available at or by calling 212-239-6200.

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