By Kajsa Nelson
The Utah Valley University Theatre Department does not disappoint in their amazing production of Tom Kitt’s “Next to Normal,” and a fantastic, hard working cast and crew only magnify the powerful story.
The story is about a typical normal family who you soon find out is anything but normal. Dealing with psychological issues, grief and drug abuse, we see this family struggle together and also apart.
The musical score is both humorous and moving and propels the story in a commanding way. The production, directed by Dave Tinney, stars Jacqulyne Jones as Diana Goodman, Topher Rasmussen as Gabe Goodman, Benjamin J. Henderson as Dan Goodman, Zoe Wilde as Natalie Goodman, Andrew Robertson as Henry and Jacob Theo Squire as Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine. The emotion these actors portray is breathtaking and moving to the point of tears.
During the Nov. 8, 2013 performance, audience members were brought to laughter and downright sobbing by this incredible production. After a standing ovation the audience was invited to participate in a question and answer session at the end of the show.
When asked what their favorite part was in being involved with this production several of the actors and crew gave some insightful responses. Jacob Theo Squire who played the doctor commented, “The best part about doing this production is telling the story. This story is so moving that we didn’t have to do much; just tell the story and it will do the rest.”
Jacqulyne Jones, who plays Diana Goodman, said, “The thing I enjoyed the most was working [with] this cast. They each taught me something about the story as well as something about myself as an actor.”
The director, Dave Tinney, commented, “My favorite part was watching my students. Watching them do something they love to do and watching them going from wanting applause to caring more about the story. It makes being a teacher worth it.”
Benjamin J. Henderson, who plays Dan Goodman, said, “I’ve grown as a person and an actor because of this show. I’m blessed to have personal relationships that I hope relates to the audience.”
One of the last comments of the night was by the stage manager Emily Griffith who said, “The chemistry between this cast blows my mind!”
Several students commented after the show about this remarkable cast and wonderful experience they had just been a part of. One student said, “That is one of the best plays I have seen in a long time.” Another student, while wiping away tears, said, “I am going through something very similar, so it was inspiring for me to watch this production.” This is definitely a show that you do not want to miss! The acting, the directing, the music and the story all flow in a magical way that many theaters wish they could produce. “Next To Normal” will be playing at the Noorda Theatre Novemeber 11, 14-16, 18, and 21-23 at 7:30pm. Go see this show and experience what the theatre can do for you.
Kajsa Nelson is a former director and teacher from Salt Lake City who is currently attending UVU to finish her bachelor’s degree in English.