Oceanside Theatre Company Announces Cast of NEXT TO NORMAL

The cast, all of whom are making their OTC debut, includes previous San Diego Critic Circle award winners Melissa Fernandes as Diana and Berto Fernández as Dan.

By: Apr. 23, 2024
Oceanside Theatre Company Announces Cast of NEXT TO NORMAL
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Oceanside Theatre Company has announced the cast for its production of Next to Normal running May 10 through May 26 at the Sunshine Brooks Theater in downtown Oceanside. Winner of three 2009 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Score, as well as the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, Next to Normal, written by Brian Yorkey with music by Tom Kitt, tells a story of hope, love, and learning to let go through a seemingly typical American family. This production will be directed by Frankie Errington with musical direction by Dr. Randi Rudolph and choreography by Alyssa "Ajay" Junious.

The cast, all of whom are making their OTC debut, includes previous San Diego Critic Circle award winners 2016 Actor of the Year Melissa Fernandes as Diana and 2022 Actor of the Year Berto Fernández as Dan. Recent college graduate Salima Gangani plays Natalie and soon-to-be SDSU graduate Danny Holmes plays Gabe. Marlon James Magtibay of Orange, California plays the role of Natalie's admirer Henry, while Daniel Filippi plays the role of Dr. Madden. "Our team looks like our world and it makes me so happy," said Fernandes of the cast and creative team of Next to Normal. "These humans are all rock stars!"

Returning members of the Creative Team include scenic designer Reiko Huffman, who designed the set for OTC's recent production of Chicken and Biscuits. Andre Buck Jr., who did the sound and mixed original music for Chicken and Biscuits, returns as Sound Designer and Mixer along with Geronimo Omabtang, OTC's Technical Director. Choreographer Alyssa "Ajay" Junious is back at OTC for the first time since 2022, having garnered acclaim for her choreography of OTC and Teatro San Diego's Songs of a New World. OTC's Artistic Director and theatrical swiss army knife Kevin "Blax" Burroughs is designing the lighting for the show.

Joining OTC for the first time are Musical Director Dr. Randi Rudolph, whose work includes Moonlight's 2023 production of 42nd Street, Costume Designer Zoë Trauttman, whose work includes Moxie's Clyde and La Jolla Playhouse's Lempicka, currently making its Broadway Debut, Stage Manager Maura McMillan, and Mckenna Foote designing Props and Set Dressing.

Referred to by some of the team as a rock opera, Next to Normal was the most requested show on OTC's patron survey as a write-in option. "The score is stunning," said Errington, who was approached to direct the piece after Artistic Director Kevin "Blax" Burroughs saw their directorial work for Turn of the Screw with Chalk Circle Collective, which they co-founded. "Rock, pop, even some folk in there, and it all really functions within the storytelling so well."

With 38 songs to master, the cast members are excited about the musical challenge Next to Normal poses. Fernández, who describes himself as a "baritone with tenor tendencies" jokes, "I really have to sing up in the stratosphere for this show." More earnestly, he explains, "But I think that really reflects to what the piece is about, because you can't really sing any other way. You have to sing at the top of your lungs, you have to sing high and poignant, because that's what you have to convey as this character. It's that feeling of desperation and that feeling of uncertainty that I think drives the piece as well."

Told almost entirely through song with very little dialogue, the audience is introduced to an average middle class family - the dad heads off to work as an architect, the mom prepares breakfast and lunch, and the teenagers crack jokes at their parents' expense. Fernández, who is from San Juan, Puerto Rico, sees a lot of his own dad in his character. "I think the Latin culture is very much about having the patriarch and the dad of the family be the provider," he said, "and who keeps everything together and all the gears going in the machine that is the family."

However, as the lights begin to shine onto their lives, the truth is illuminated, revealing the shadows of the mother's 16-year battle with bipolar disorder and the roles each family member has had to play. "It's really about this family trying to figure out how to love each other in the midst of very difficult circumstances," said Errington.


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