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

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police investigating chop-shop found in Beacon Hill Park

Police asking public to register bikes with them in case lost or stolen

Island Health issues Victoria overdose advisory

Health authority warns of increase in overdoses from opioids and stimulants

Residents welcomed to The Summit in Victoria’s Quadra Village

Modern 320-bed facility designed for people with complex care needs including dementia

Victoria considers extending free transit passes for youth

Motion for extension of funding comes to council July 16

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read