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Real-life issue addressed in Vista production

It’s a topic that has come a long way in recent years but still has a long way to go: mental health.

The Historic Vista Theater is hosting a musical about that subject, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner called “Next to Normal.”

The production’s director, Leslie Parkkonen, shared this take on the musical: “What is so unique about this particular show is how audience members will find it easily relatable. Mental illness is far reaching in our communities and the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states a whopping 45,000 lives were lost (nationally) in 2016 to completed suicide. The stigma against mental illness is ever present and many sufferers endure their pain silently. How heartbreaking!

“I knew directing this particular show would be an immense challenge, for the subject matter alone hit close to home. But it was also the reason why it drew me in so quickly. I couldn’t pass up the chance to be a part of this immensely illuminating production.”

The distance traveled in recent years from the spot in which mental health issues were considered shameful to the place today in which more people than ever realize that these issues are nothing to be embarrassed about is heartening.

But still, some people do not want to discuss the topic, which can add to the stress of anyone experiencing this kind of difficulty.

We thank the folks at the Vista for bringing this profound work to our area. We hope the theater is packed all three nights of the production. “Next to Normal” will be presented at 7 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday.

And we hope the light continues to shine on mental health issues, allowing those in the midst of difficulty the best chance possible to heal with the support of loved ones and the whole community.