The Alliance Theatre, Atlanta’s Tony Award winning regional theatre company, will present the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal beginning October 17 and running until November 11, 2012. Recently we were able to speak with Marietta native (and Pebblebrook High School alum) Cary Tedder, who stars as Gabe in the pop-rock musical that, deals with everything from mental illness, to death, and high school love.
“This is the most fascinating role I’ve ever taken on. Gabe is powerful, young and manipulative. He is loved feared, and hated. I’m no stranger to physicality in performance, but this is altogether a new beast of the young male musical theatre role.”
In the family dynamic of the show, Gabe is son to Diana and Dan, and brother to Natalie. Diana, the family matriarch, suffers from depression and bi-polar disorder, and thus in turn, the rest of the family toils with her issues. Diana wakes up and starts making sandwiches one morning for her husband, her 16 year-old daughter and soon-to-be 18 year-old son…a lot of sandwiches….a kitchen full of sandwiches. As Diana embarks on yet another round of treatment, family secrets emerge that force audiences to question the very idea of normal.
A show that openly deals with mental illness is something groundbreaking and unheard of when it comes to subject matter for a musical. After some time, though, it could begin to feel dated once breakthroughs to help mental illness are found but Tedder says “Every piece is a period piece. We are living in an age of shared knowledge and immense learning. As my generation grows and develops, so will our understanding of the world. Through exceptional art and moving performances I know we are taking the steps towards a greater truth.”
Tom Kitt (who worked with the Alliance last season on the now Broadway musical Bring It On) created the pop-rock score with Brian Yorky’s lyrics and book. When asked how the style of music created for this piece impacts the story being told on the Alliance stage, Tedder said “The music in any musical is an expression of the characters and their emotional situations. The show has contemporary pop music because it’s dealing with modern circumstances and struggles.”
Next to Normal is directed by Broadway veteran Scott Schwartz, who says “Next to Normal has a thrilling pop-rock score that you expect from a contemporary musical, but it also has the depth and complexity of a play. At its core, it’s a powerful family drama, and I’m excited to explore that.”
October 17 – November 11, 2012
Book & Lyrics by Brian Yorkey; Music by Tom Kitt; Directed by Scott Schwartz
For tickets, visit alliancetheatre.org/normal or call the box office, 404.733.5000