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Photos: First Look at Center Stage's NEXT TO NORMAL Starring Ariela Morgenstern, Justin Scott Brown, and More

Center Stage presents the rock musical Next to Normal, the second show of its music-filled 2014-15 Season.

The winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize of Drama and three Tony Awards, Next to Normal is a groundbreaking, darkly funny musical that tells the story of a suburban mother struggling with bipolar disorder and the effect it has on her family. Baltimore native and 11-time director of Center Stage productions David Schweizer is helming the show, which runs Oct. 8 through Nov. 16 in Center Stage's intimate Head Theater. Broadway-veteran Schweizer last directed 2012's Bus Stop at Center Stage.

Next to Normal features a cast lead by Ariela Morgenstern, who also played the powerhouse role of Diana at Penn State Centre Stage this summer and is making her Center Stage debut. Joining Morgenstern as Diana's husband Dan is Michael Winther, who has performed on Broadway in musicals such as Mamma Mia!, 1776, and Damn Yankees and who was seen in Center Stage's Schweizer-directed production of The Boys from Syracuse. Justin Scott Brown, who plays Gabe, comes to Baltimore after playing the role of Marius in the 20th anniversary national tour of Les Miserables. He was Jack in Center Stage's production of Into the Woods.

Completing the cast are three actors making their Center Stage debuts. Matt Lutz (Dr. Madden) was a part of the original Broadway cast of Bonnie and Clyde and is featured in the films A Walk to Remember and Bringing Down the House as well as the TV shows Dawson's Creek, Boston Public and 7th Heaven. Playing Diana and Dan's daughter Natalie is Kally Duling, whose credits include The Fifth of July in Williamstown and Back in Pictures Off Broadway. Matthew Rodin (Henry) makes his professional debut in Next to Normal after graduating from The Boston Conservatory this year.

Next to Normal has music by Tom Kitt and a book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Kitt is responsible for the music behind other contemporary Broadway rock musicals, including Green Day's American Idiot, High Fidelity and Bring It On: The Musical. Yorkey's rock musical credits include Sting's The Last Ship (on Broadway this fall).

Next to Normal is made possible by DLA Piper, with additional support from McCormick, Inc., and KPMG. Next to Normal's media partners are WTMD and WYPR. Center Stage is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business and Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges, and universities for arts activities. Funding for the MSAC is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Center Stage's 2014-15 Season is made possible by Season 52 presenting sponsor M&T Bank. Maryland Public Television is a Media Partner for Center Stage's 2014-15 Season.

Previews for Next to Normal begin Oct. 8, and opening night is Oct. 15. For more information, visit centerstage.org or call 410.332.0033.


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