‘Next to Normal’

Musical to debut Thursday at Vista

During a rehearsal for the production of “Next to Normal” at the Vista Theater in Negaunee, Diana Goodman, center, portrayed by Monica Nordeen, speaks to Dr. Fine, played by Jeff Spencer, as her husband, Dan Goodman, played by Jeff Jennings, background, looks on. The 2008 rock musical centering on mental illness will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available at the door and online at vistatheater.org. (Courtesy photol)

NEGAUNEE — Yeah, something next to normal; that’s the thing I’d like to try; close enough to normal to get by; we’ll get by, we’ll get by.

Mental illness. It’s a subject you would not expect to be addressed in a musical. But the critically acclaimed rock musical “Next to Normal” by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt tackles the subject poignantly.

The story will be powerfully told at the Vista Theater in Negaunee beginning on Thursday by a cast of well-known, talented local performers.

It centers on mother Diana Goodman, played by Monica Nordeen, as she struggles with bipolar disorder. Diana’s 16-year-old daughter Natalie played by Eliisa Gladwell and Diana’s husband, Dan Goodman, played by Jeff Jennings, are deeply impacted by her illness.

Alex Herman plays the Goodman’s son Gabe, Jeff Spencer plays Dr. Fine and Dr. Madden, and the role of Henry, Natalie’s boyfriend, is portrayed by Shane Vincent.

The musical is directed by Leslie Parkkonen, a Vista Theater favorite in her own right, said Vista Theater Advisory Board President Rusty Bowers.

“This cast and crew has worked so hard to bring this touching production to the Vista stage,” Bowers said. “Mental illness is part of the everyday lives of so many people, it’s an important subject. I am proud of the cast and crew who bring this Tony-nominated musical to life in such a touching way.”

Due to the serious subject matter tackled in the production, Bowers said it is recommended for audiences 16 years of age and over.

The production will open at 7 p.m. Thursday, followed by performances at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available at the door and in advance at vistatheater.org. Adult tickets are $15, with students and seniors priced at $12.

The Vista Theater is located at 218 Iron St.


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