Tibbits teams with healthcare providers on ‘Next to Normal’ in September
COLDWATER – Tibbits Summer Theatre presents the dramatic rock musical Next to Normal on the Tibbits stage for six performances, September 6-8 and 12-14, 2019.
Next to Normal is a very real depiction of a family in crisis trying to overcome the past. The story centers on a mother who struggles with worsening bipolar disorder and the effects that managing her illness has on her family. The musical addresses grief, depression, suicide, drug abuse, ethics in modern psychiatry, and suburban life through humor and tears.
Along with Tibbits Artistic Director Charles Burr, Matthew Everingham joins Next to Normal as musical director. The cast, with returning professional summer theatre company members, comprises Stephanie Burdick as Diana, Taylor Joseph Rivera as Gabe, Matthew C. Scott as Dan, Jennifer Barnaba as Natalie, Michael Motkowski as Henry, and Sean Noonan as Doctor Madden/Doctor Fine. The technical staff includes set design by Aaron Bell and Rachel Lucas, lighting design by Catie Blencow, costume design by Marie Green, sound design by Ken Delaney, and props by Rachel Marengere.
The show does include mature content and some explicit language. The goal of the production is to bring attention to mental health issues, dispel stigmas, and open up dialogues through the art of live theater. To encourage the open dialogue, each performance will include informal discussions and Talkbacks to engage audience members in the conversation with the performers and others involved. Discussions will include health care professionals available for questions, information, and assistance.
Director Charles Burr says, “I find ‘Next to Normal’ exciting and rather daunting. It won every award possible for its writing. That makes me excited to get my hands on it and determined to get it right,” adding, “I love the music, a combo of rock and contemporary Broadway. But it is not an easy score to sing. Fortunately, we have 6 wonderful performers.”
Burr added, “I love how the story is told, but it is told in a very non-linear, almost dream like sequence of short scenes. I think we have designed a set that will help clarify the action. It has been a long time since I have been able to work on show that is highly dramatic, but has wonderfully humorous moments…you know–just like life.”
Pines Behavioral Health and ProMedica Coldwater Regional Hospital have teamed with Tibbits to present the show as a means of opening the dialogue on the very real issues of mental health. ProMedica is a mission-based, not-for-profit integrated healthcare organization headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. Driven by its mission to improve health and well-being, ProMedica has been nationally recognized for its advocacy programs and efforts to address social determinants of health. Pines, as the Community Mental Health Authority for Branch County, specializes in assisting those with serious mental illness such as Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Severe Anxiety and other brain conditions that impair functional abilities due to the severity of symptoms. Tibbits has been producing professional theatre for 55 years and has established its reputation for quality productions.
This collaborative activity is sponsored by ProMedica with additional support from Pines. The performance also received support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Minigrant Program administered by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.
Burr says, “I know our sponsors are looking for this show to spark a discussion about mental health, a topic that even in 2019 is still a really taboo subject. The arts, and theatre in particular, have a long history of shining a light on issues and helping to get that conversation going.”
Tickets range from $10-$27 (including fees) with student and Tibbits member pricing. Tickets are currently available online at Tibbits.org, through the Tibbits Box Office at the theatre, or by calling 517-278-6029.