Pinole Players Stage East Bay presents the regional premiere of NEXT TO NORMAL, Feb. 1-16.
Working out of the Pinole Community Playhouse, the Pinole Players continue along their 27-year track as "the little theatre that could." Knowing audiences have cheered the steady stream of hit shows The Players have staged in their intimate 80-seat theater in Pinole.
With Next to Normal, the Pinole Players pull back the curtain on what is probably their most ambitious undertaking yet. The Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical is truly a musical written for our times. Its story concerns a mother who struggles with worsening bipolar disorder and the effect that her illness has on her family. Music is by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey.
Director Brian Katz on Next to Normal: "When I first saw Next to Normal on Broadway, I fell instantly in love with the raw emotion of the play and the intensity of the original cast. Later that night, though, I had a startling revelation - that this musical was really a small theater piece trapped on a Broadway stage. That is, while the original staging (which often felt like a rock concert) was fun and commercial, this story could only benefit from the audience being let into Dan and Diana's troubled home. This is what we are attempting to create in the Pinole Players production - an intimate, sincere, and honest look at mental illness and how it can drive a family both apart and together. And, of course, to rock out this amazing score".
Next to Normal runs for eight performances only, February 1-2, 8-9, and 14-15-16, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sunday, Feb.10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Pinole Community Playhouse, 601 Tennent Avenue in Pinole. Tickets are $23, $20 for Seniors & Students. (510) 724-9844. www.pinoleplayers.org.
The Pinole Players production features Michael Scott Wells, Lisa-Marie Newton, Alex Bonte, Nicolina Akraboff , Brian Dauglash and Perry Aliado. Lisa-Marie Newton (Diana) is a recent Bay Area Theatre Critics' Circle Aard-winner for her role as Sarah Jane Moore in Ray of Light's production of Assassins.
Directing the East Bay premiere of Next to Normal is Brian Katz, hopping over from San Francisco's Custom Made Theatre where he is artistic director. Musical Direction is by Dean Starnes, with Set Design by Fernando Ochoa.
Brian Katz (Director) is the co-founder of San Francisco's Custom Made Theatre Company, where hehas directed over 25 productions including A Bright Room Called Day, Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell, and The Heidi Chronicles. Brian has a B.A. in theatre literature and criticism from Clark University and interned in dramaturgy at the Goodman Theatre. He has worked at Cal Shakes, Killing My Lobster, Berkeley Rep, and CenterREP. Almost a dozen shows he has directed, or produced, have been nominated for BATCC awards, and a few have made top 10 lists for various Bay Area publications. Last year, Katz directed the Pinole Players' very successful production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Pinole Players was awarded the rights to stage the East Bay Regional Premiere of Next to Normal, certainly a kudo, considering that the only other company in the Bay Area to do the show was the renowned San Jose Rep.
"We are honored to be granted the rights to produce this powerful drama on our stage and to bring together an outstanding group of actors, designers and directors," says Pinole Players' producer Patti Clark
After opening on Broadway in 2009, Next to Normal was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won three of them. The following year, it won the Pulitzer, in no small part for its insightful story of a woman fighting through an all-too-common psychological problem to remain a part of her family.
Audiences enjoy the comfort and intimacy of the Pinole Community Playhouse. Seated cabaret-style at tables, they can enjoy beverages and snacks as the show goes on. As the Pinole Players group continues to evolve, the tables are scheduled to give way to comfortable tiered traditional theater seating and much improved audience sight lines thanks to a grant from the East Bay Regional Parks District and the generosity of long-time audience members.