“Next to Normal” coming to Doudna Theatre

Alana Reinhardt, Contributing Writer

Eastern’s theatre arts department will give its audience a glimpse into the life of a family dealing with the effects of their mother’s bipolar disorder in next week’s musical production of “Next to Normal.”

The rock musical also delves into the heavy topics of drug use, family loss and suicide.

These themes may seem deep for a rock musical setting, but Director Anne Thibault said her cast and crew are up for the challenge.

“I knew from directing the musical ‘Dogfight’ last year that we had extraordinary talent here, and we would be able to tackle this complex, hauntingly beautiful rock musical,” Thibault said.

Thibault said “Next to Normal” is one of the great American musicals of the past decade.

It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an honor bestowed on very few musicals.

Thibault says there is more to the show than just its darker elements.

“‘Next to Normal’ is about mental illness, but it’s also about family, belonging and the shifting nature of love,” Thibault said. “It’s also about loss and how people face their lives after dealing with tragedy.”

The show has six lead characters along with chorus.

Frank Monier, who plays father and husband Dan Goodman, said “Next to Normal” has been one of his dreams shows to work on because it is hard, interesting and a really lovely piece of art.

“This show has so many layers within it that it will almost be impossible not to be able to relate to a character on the stage,” Monier said. “Whether it is dealing with mental illness or just understanding what it’s like to live in a dysfunctional family, everyone in the audience will be able to relate to something.”

Monier said this show will be great for Eastern students because there are many people struggling with mental illness on and off campus.

“This show allows not only those who don’t understand what living with mental illness is like to do so, but also allows for those struggling with those realities to really connect and feel for others who struggle with them too,” Monier said.

The show coincides with the Doudna Fine Arts Center’s tenth anniversary, during which the fine arts department will present three shows about the art and act of memory.

Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 8-11 and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12.

Tickets are $13 for general admission, $11 for Seniors and $5 for students.

Reservations can be made by Doudna Fine Arts Center Box Office at 217-581-3110 or by emailing [email protected].


Alana Reinhardt can be reached 581-2812 or [email protected].