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Powerful Folk-Rock Musical Won The Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – July 15, 2013 – Heritage Theatre Festival is closing its 2013 season with Next To Normal. The powerful rock musical, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, opens July 25 at Culbreth Theatre.

Next To Normal, with music by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, will be directed by Heritage Producing Artistic Director Robert Chapel. The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. from July 25-27, 30 and 31, and from August 1-3. There will also be a 2:00 p.m. matinee on August 3. Tickets for the show are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors and U.Va. faculty, staff and alumni, and $20 for students. Tickets are available at the U.Va. Arts Box Office (located in the lobby of the Drama Building), online at www.uvahtf.org or by phone at 434-924-3376.

Next To Normal is an emotional whirlwind of a musical that explores how one woman’s battle with bi-polar disorder is dealt with in varying ways by her entire family. Grief, loss, anger, resentment, love, and hope jockey wildly and unpredictably for position against a musical backdrop featuring 30 folk-rock songs. The New York Times raved, “It’s more than a feel-good musical. It’s a feel-everything musical. Next To Normal captured three Tony Awards in 2009, including Best Original Score.

The production contains strong language and is intended for mature audiences.

“I was inspired when I saw the show in New York, and then again when I read it and listened to it a second time,” Chapel said. “I also thought that it would provide a counter -balance to this season of shows such as Tuna Does Vegas and The Marvelous Wonderettes. The show is about a subject that affects millions of people in our world that is rarely, if ever, dealt with in musical theatre. “

Chapel was also intrigued by the opportunity to share musicals like these with the Heritage audience in addition to the older, classic works. “Over the past number of years, we have done A Light in the Piazza and Sunday in the Park With George, shows like those which are a little offbeat, and not your traditional musical theatre fare.”

He is particularly excited about the cast he has assembled for the production, all of whom are from out of town. “This is one of the finest casts that I have ever had. We have Catherine Ogden playing our lead Diana, who is the one battling mental illness. Catherine played the mother in our production of Ragtime several years back, was in our Damn Yankees and played Nancy in Oliver here. Ross Wheeler, an equity actor who comes to us from Yorkville, IL, plays her husband and is a wonderful singer and actor. We have Kyle Downing, from Houston, and Jonathan Coarsey from Philadelphia, both of whom performed in the season-opening production of Annie Get Your Gun. Heritage audiences may also remember Paige Herschell, who played the lead in the Heritage production of She Loves Me. They all, each and every one, are impeccable musicians and have great instincts as actors, which makes my job much easier.”

Their individual talents have blended beautifully, Chapel said, and in a short rehearsal period the group has bonded deeply as a cast. “The evolution of this production has turned out to be a great collaboration. They are not afraid to say, ‘Hey, what about this?’ and I am not afraid to say ‘That’s a good idea.’  It has been a really positive, growing experience in terms of the production’s process.”

Chapel encourages audiences to see beyond the offbeat subject matter and experience the show for themselves. “I think that people will find this to be not only a very thought-provoking evening, but also, in its own way, a very entertaining evening as well. I think it is going to be a very moving production, and I am really happy with where we are going with it.”

There will be a talk-back with the cast and mental health professionals from Region Ten following the Thursday, August 1st performance.  There is no additional charge to attend the talk-back.

Free parking for all Heritage Theatre Festival performances is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, conveniently located alongside the theaters.
To access a photo of the production, visit http://www.virginia.edu/heritagetheatre/pressCenter.htm
For more information on the 2013 Heritage Theatre Festival season, visit, www.uvahtf.org.


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Heritage Theatre Festival Publicist
John Kelly
John Kelly PR