Langham Court Theatre gets musical with Next to Normal

Production built around award-winning musical score

  • Sep. 30, 2016 8:00 p.m.

Molly Lyndon and Rowan Wolfe perform a scene from Langham Court Theatre's production of Next to Normal.

By Tim Collins

The first production of the 2016/17 season at Langham Court Theatre is being described as an emotionally vivid piece of theatre with a unique contradiction at its core.

The production of Next to Normal is built around an award winning musical score (38 numbers in all), yet at its heart, the plot is an extremely intimate family story, perfectly adapting to the more informal setting at the theatre.

Director Greg Perry has managed to stage a rock musical in a facility never designed for a musical production of this scope, all the while employing a cast of actors who understand and meet the challenges of a close relationship with the audience. He’s also artfully managed the 14 locations within the play in such a way that the action continues to flow, even as it moves from place to place, all on a single set.

The story is about Diana Goodman and her family. They seem normal enough; dad’s an architect, the teenage children are typically wise-cracking kids, and mom rushes about trying to keep the family organized.

Mom also suffers from bipolar depressive disorder, complete with delusional episodes. The illness has affected her family in profound ways, with each character facing the challenges differently. As her condition worsens and she seeks professional help, new challenges are introduced and each character has to cope with those challenges in their own terms.

“This is without a doubt the most challenging role I’ve ever undertaken,” said Fran Bitoni, who plays Goodman. “It’s a topic that is so difficult, but one that resonates with almost everyone. We’ve all known someone with a mental illness of some kind — a family member, a friend, a co-worker — and this play humanizes the illness. It makes us reconsider our preconceptions about mental illness…strips it of the stigma and humanizes it as just another illness.”

It’s a tough topic but, according to Perry,  this production manages to deliver repeated emotional blows with an artful and sympathetic, poignant and hopeful portrayal of mental illness and its impact both on individuals and their families.

Next to Normal, with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt was nominated for 11 2009 Tony Awards and won three, including best rriginal score and best orchestration. It also won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.

“The team at Langham Court have been an absolute joy,” said Perry. “They manage to mix wit with raw human emotion to bring out the nuances and richness the playwrights have written into the story. It’s a challenging production, but this cast has risen to the task. In the end, it’s a story of hope.”

Next to Normal runs until Oct. 15. For more information visit langhamtheatre.ca.

 

editor@vicnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Songhees youth among those recognized by province for achievement in sport

Team BC athletes in North American Indigenous Games, Canada Summer Games recognized

Pedestrian struck in downtown Sidney after receiving safety reflector

Man treated for minor injures by police who were at the scene handing out reflectors

Wait is over for Willows students

École Willows portables complete - students moved in Monday

Write about Oak Bay to win $500

Winner earns cash and placement in the Oak Bay News

Victoria’s cannabis shops mapped out

The News offers an interactive look the city’s marijuana dispensaries

VIDEO: Innovating healthier homes

NZ Builders bring commercial concept into residential realm to improve energy efficiency and health

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Ikea relaunches dresser recall after eighth child dies

Recall is for all Ikea chest and dressers and include 8 million Malm chest and dressers that were sold from 2002 through June 2016.

UPDATE: Washington Governor Jay Inslee visits B.C.

Premier John Horgan talks trains, trade with southern neighbour

Viral video shows deer killed on Snapchat in Campbell River

RCMP say they have identified those involved and are working with conservation officers

BC Conservatives call for ICBC reform

Leader Scott Anderson of Vernon calls ICBC ‘national embarrassment

Vic High students take Saanich-reared comic’s words on mental illness to heart

School counsellors see uptick in visits after Kevin Breel relays his depression story

Vigil held for woman whose remains were found on Shuswap farm

Family and friends remember Vernon resident Traci Genereaux and along with five other missing women

Brewers create anti-fascist ale

Not For Nazis Nut Brown Ale made in the Shuswap will be ready in time for Christmas

Most Read