Several performances of Next to Normal, an award-winning rock musical about mental illness, will be staged at 214 (former Arts Center of the Ozarks building) starting on Aug. 12. Local artist Taylor Dolan is directing a cast of six players in this two-act play that earned three Tony Awards— including Best Musical Score—and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Next to Normal explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness, including bipolar disorder. Taylor, who is also the producer and one of the set designers, said she was drawn to the play as its 2009 Broadway debut coincided with her onset of anxiety and depression. “That happened to be the year I begin my difficult journey with mental health,” Taylor said. “This play stayed in my heart and mind, and I jumped at the opportunity to tell this important story.”
Evening shows are set for 7 p.m., Aug. 12 through Aug. 14, and Aug. 19 through Aug. 21. Matinees will be staged at 3 p.m. on Aug. 15 and Aug. 22. Tickets are $20 and seating in the 300-seat theater will be limited to 100 per show. Attendees who have not received a COVID vaccination are asked to wear a mask. Tickets are available at https://tinyurl.com/N2N-theplay.
The cast was chosen from some 60 actors who auditioned. Taylor then invited locals with bipolar disorder to meet with the cast and crew.
“We wanted to present this respectively and authentically, so we invited five young women to share their experiences. They opened up for three hours and gave us their stories and experiences,” Taylor said.
“I hope audiences enjoy the beautiful singing, the depth of characterization and raw emotions of Next to Normal,” Taylor added. “But for those in attendance who are living with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses, I hope they’ll walk away knowing their experiences are valid and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”