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Next To Normal

Music by Tom Kitt
Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey

Directed by Susannah Martin
Musical Direction by David Möschler

Photos by David Weiland

Presented by YMTC+
May 3-13, 2018

BERKELEYSIDE“Guest Director Susannah Martin has a slew of directing credits and awards to her name and is perhaps best known locally for her highly praised productions for the Shotgun Players, where she is a company member.“ – Jim Corr


“I don’t need a life that’s normal – that’s way too far away.”

Whenever we find ourselves in crisis, we tend to say, “I just want my life to go back to normal.” But what is normal? Normalcy is a fallacy that has been sold to us through media, advertisements, and stories for millennia. In the opening song of this show, the suburban wife and mother sings, “They’re the perfect loving family, so adoring….” What does that mean? The suburban “perfect” family image from the 1950s, where dad-the-provider, mom-the-nurturer, and kids-the-unblemished live in an immaculate house with a pristine white picket fence, and a perfect patch of evergreen lawn? And let’s not forget, in this normal, perfect family: everyone is always, always feeling nothing but GOOD.

We all know that this version of family didn’t – and doesn’t – exist. We know it’s a lie that’s been sold to us repeatedly. We know this. Life will always life at us. Tragedies and losses – big and small – occur daily. And yet, we endlessly strive for this absurdly unattainable idea of the “perfect loving family.” And we deem ourselves failures, in all our designated roles, if we don’t achieve society’s idea of what it means to be a man or a woman, let alone a husband or wife or daughter or son. All our happiness, our sanity – our mental health – is connected to these tropes.

What this musical does so beautifully is set-up the idea of the “normal” family only to dismantle it almost as soon as the story begins. We watch a family struggle to put themselves into the box of normal only to discover abnormal is their – and most people’s – normal. We watch the family tie themselves into knots to avoid dealing with their losses; we watch them “fight the things we feel” – and we watch the fallout from that denial. The treatise of the show, that the only way out is through, is expressed in the finale when the wife says, “And you find out you don’t have to be happy at all to be happy you’re alive.” Life means feeling. Life means surviving – going on – not despite, but because of these losses. And “normal” families do this a myriad of different ways – sometimes together and sometimes apart – and all of them normal.

Diana / Jennifer Boesing
Dan / Danny Cozart
Natalie / Celeste Kamiya
Gabe / Kevin Singer
Henry / David Crane
Dr. Fine + Dr. Madden / Daniel Barrington Rubio

Conductor + Keyboard / David Möschler
Drum Set + Percussion / John Doing
Electric + Acoustic Guitars / Sam Schwartz
Violin + Keyboard / Christina Owens
Cello / Diana Lee
Double Bass + Electric Bass / Travis Kindred

Assistant Director / Carmel Tenenbaum
Assistant Lighting Designer / Betty Schneider
Assistant Music Director / Diana Lee
Choreographer / Janet Collard
Costume Design / Alice Ruiz
Costume Assistant + Wardrobe Manager / Kyra Wang
Dance Captain / Christiano Delgado
Hair + Make-Up Consultant / Michelle Van Dyke
Lighting Design / Dirk Epperson
Paint Charge / Dawn Nakashima
Production Assistant / Quinci Waller
Production Stage Manager / Zoe Wei Hu
Properties Design / Dawn Nakashima
Scenic Design / Angrette McCloskey
Set + Props Assistant / Morgan Page
Shadow Cast Director / Simone Kertesz
Sound Design + Engineer / Anton Hedman
Sound Mixer / Elyse Fink
Sound Assistant / Parker Nelson
Technical Director / Christopher Kristant