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Chance Theater presents “Next to Normal”

Chance Theater, Anaheim’s official resident theater company, proudly presents the groundbreaking musical, “Next to Normal” as the first show in its 24th Anniversary Season. Directed by Matthew McCray with music direction by Stephen Hulsey, “Next to Normal” will run January 28 – February 27, 2022 on the Cripe Stage at the Bette Aitken theater arts Center.

This groundbreaking smash hit musical won the Pulitzer Prize and three Tony Awards during its acclaimed run on Broadway. With a thrilling contemporary score, “Next to Normal” takes you behind the proverbial white picket fence to discover a family coming to terms with their past, bravely fighting to face their future, and striving to take care of themselves and each other. This emotional powerhouse of a musical is authentic, humorous, and unflinching. It will leave you breathless and full of hope.

Director Matthew McCray thinks stories about mental health need to be showcased more. “Mental illness is an ‘invisible illness’ and I think it’s important to bring these stories into focus. Not only for those who may have no experience on the subject, but also for those who struggle with it everyday to feel seen.”

McCray is excited about bringing “Next to Normal” to the Chance Theater’s intimate Cripe Stage at the Bette Aitken theater arts Center. “It’s been over a decade since ‘Next to Normal’ opened on Broadway, but the themes and story still resonate. Our production is staged in a small theater, so the intimate and personal nature of the story has more potential to penetrate.” He describes “Next to Normal” as “Challenging, unrelenting, and quirky. Plus, we are exploring some new stylistic approaches to some characters which depart from the model established over 10 years ago in the Broadway production.”

The world premiere of “Next to Normal” occurred in 2008, but the show’s origins stretch back to 1998, when writers Yorkey and Kitt were attending the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Yorkey brought an idea to Kitt about a woman undergoing electroshock therapy and the impact of that treatment upon her family. Over the next four years, Kitt and Yorkey kept expanding “Feeling Electric” until it became a full-length musical. This new show received a 2002 reading at the Village Theatre in Washington, followed by readings at several New York City venues with cast members that included Norbert Leo Butz. Significant changes were made during its Off-Broadway run, including the removal of the title song and more focus being put on Diana and her family’s struggles as they’re forced to face up to bitter truths.

The show officially opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre on April 15, 2009. The New York Times’ Ben Brantley called the Broadway staging “a brave, breathtaking musical. It is something much more than a feel-good musical: it is a feel-everything musical.” Rolling Stone called it “the best new musical of the season – by a mile.” The production racked up a total of 11 Tony Award nominations, winning for Best Original Score, Best Orchestration, and Alice Ripley for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Just as exciting and gratifying was the next honor the show would receive – the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – only the eighth time in history that a musical garnered the award.

Joining director McCray and music director Hulsey on the design team are scenic designer Joe Holbrook (“The Vandal”), lighting designer Matt Schleicher (“Skylight”), costume designer Christina Perez (“Edges”), sound designer Ryan Brodkin (“The Story of My Life”), stage manager Wade Williamson (“Tigers Be Still”), and dramaturg Sophie Hall Cripe (“Ragtime”).

Starring in this production will be Chance Theater Resident Artist Jocelyn A. Brown (“The Last 5 Years”) as Diana, Tym Brown (Chance debut) as Dan, Jaylen Baham (Chance debut) as Gabe, Angie Chavez (Chance debut) as Natalie, Jared Machado (Chance debut) as Henry, and Ron Hastings (Ovation Award nominee for Lead Actor for 2020’s Fun Home) as Dr. Madden.

As with all other Chance productions, each performance will be followed by a discussion with members of the production team.

Chance Theater’s COVID-19 policy requires General Performance ticket holders to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Those without proof of being fully vaccinated — must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours (2 days) prior to entering the theater. Masks are required at all times for all patrons. Ticket holders who do not comply with these policies will not be admitted. Get the most up to date information about Chance Theater’s health and safety protocols at www.ChanceTheater.com/safety.

Chance Theater is thankful to Executive Producers Linda & Tod White for their support of this production, as well as our 2022 Season Producers Bette & Wylie Aitken, Associate Producers Susan Bowman & Freddie Greenfield and Laurie Smits Staude, and 2022 Associate Season Producers, The Family of Mary Kay Fyda-Mar.

To schedule press interviews, arrange for press comps, request press photos, or for any additional information regarding this production, please contact Managing Director Casey Long at (626) 523-7151 or [email protected].

This article was released by the Chance Theater.