WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary’s University Department of Theatre and Dance’s contemporary rock musical Next to Normal will explore how a suburban household copes with crisis.

Under the direction and musical direction of Judy Myers, Next to Normal will showcase the vocal talents of Saint Mary’s students through an energetic pop/rock score with more than 30 original songs. Through provocative lyrics, the audience will be taken on an emotional journey as they watch the devastating effect mental illness has on a “normal” family.

Dad’s an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches; their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens—on the surface, they appear to be a typical American family. And yet their lives are anything but normal because the mother has been battling manic depression for 16 years. Written by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kit, Next to Normal takes audiences into the minds and hearts of each character, presenting their family’s story with love, sympathy, and heart.

“The structure of the play is like a rollercoaster,” Myers said. “Audiences will experience dramatic highs and lows. In many ways, the script brilliantly emulates the ups and downs of bipolar disorder.”

In order to truly understand the unpredictability of bipolar disorder and its effects on loved ones, Myers said her actors have worked with Dr. Beth Seebach of Saint Mary’s Psychology Department.

Winner of three 2009 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Score, and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, Next to Normal was also chosen as one of the year’s 10 best shows by critics around the country, including  The Washington PostLos Angeles TimesRolling Stone, and New York Times.

Shows are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 16-18, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, at the Page Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens and are available by calling the box office, 507-457-1715, from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at www.pagetheatre.org.

Pictured is Saint Mary’s student actress Bailey Steinke who plays Diana Goodman in the upcoming production of Next to Normal.

 

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