‘Next to Normal’ premieres at Buckner

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Raven Leverett

Assistant Features Editor

“Okay. Hey. Let’s start over – clean slate. I’ll come by here at eight. If you show, then we’ll go. If you don’t, well, we’ll see…,” Henry, character in “Next to Normal” said.

From Nov. 14 through Nov. 24, Loca Lee Buckner Theatre will be home to the theatre production of “Next to Normal.”

According to the FSC website, “Next to Normal” is a Pulitzer Prize musical about “how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness.” The production was directed by James F. Beck. Performers in the musical have a different way of explaining it.

“‘Next To Normal’ is a very moving play. Emotionally, it is unstable, and that is my favorite part about it,” sophomore Jonathon Timpanelli said. “The less I say about it though, the more the audience will enjoy it. I promise there won’t be one dry eye in the audience.”

Another student expands more on the instability in the musical.

“It is about a family with the mother having bipolar disorder and the effect it has on her family. It also teaches you about the ethics of psychiatry with like the whole ECTs (Electroconvulsive Therapy),” junior Alex Pilka said.

Playing different roles in the production, each actor gets a different look at what the musical has to offer.

“My character is Henry. I play the daughter’s boyfriend. My character is very relaxed and easy-going,” Timpanelli said. “This might be because he is a pot head, nonetheless, he is a genuinely lovable character that I hope the audience falls in love with [him] as Natalie does.”

According to arenastage.org, Henry is “Natalie’s musician boyfriend [who] tries to be supportive as Natalie and tries to cope with her family.”

Another FSC student plays a very different role, yet still significant.

“My inspiration for the character, Doctor Fine, is pretty much the one that is doing what he has to do. Even though it may not be helping her, it is my job and I really don’t do anything more. Do this, do that, done,” Pilka said.

These performances are extremely important to FSC theatre majors.

“I have been acting all my life. My father is an entertainer, so I grew up around the entertainment industry. It’s all I know to be honest,” Timpanelli said. “If you ask anyone who knows me, they can attest when I say my passion is to make people laugh. That’s why I do theatre. When people can come to  show and forget about their problems for an hour or two, that makes it all worth it.”

The theatre majors feel that this production can be shared with an audience in away that everyone will understand.

“It is a show with great music. It’s got a great story, inspirational and a theme everyone can get,” Pilka said.