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Steel River Playhouse Opens New Season With Tony- and Pulitzer-Winning Contemporary Musical

September 7, 2012

The popular Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Next to Normal, is the highly anticipated 2012-13 Season opener for Steel River Playhouse (formerly Tri-County Performing Arts Center, or Tri-PAC).

Running for just 6 performances over 2 weekends (September 14th through 23rd), Next to Normal is a compellingly honest story that is by turns comedic and moving. A contemporary rock musical infused with a powerful story line, Next to Normal centers on the Goodmans– Dan, Diana, Gabe and Natalie – a seemingly “normal” family as real and recognizable as our own. Each is trying to take care of themselves and each other, wrestling to hold onto home, joy, commitment and love in the face of strong and subtle forces. The magic
of Next to Normal is how much you care about the characters and their tenacity as they experience each day.

The New York Times called it a “brave,breathtaking musical,” and a “feel-everything musical.” The Washington Post went so far as to say it “defines the modern American musical.” Unlike traditional musicals comprised of discrete sections of dialogue and song, the thrilling musical numbers of Next of Normal are woven seamlessly into the work and carry the plot forward organically. A live orchestra supports the stellar cast of actor-singers, keeping up Steel River Playhouse’s longstanding commitment to high quality musicianship as an essential part of the musical theater experience.

Next to Normal is directed by Kevin Laibson, a New York-based producer and director who has been instrumental in encouraging and enabling artists and playwrights to take risks and keep theater original and powerful. He’s also a teacher (improvisation), actor and musician.

Laibson says Next to Normal is about “…how hard people work to be together.” What makes the play so powerful, Laibson says, is “how much the audience will care about these characters, and how much their struggles will mean to everyone watching.”

The play will be performed in Steel River Playhouse’s intimate Newberry Loft, which will seat less than 100 people for each performance. Laibson believes that this setting will enhance the audience’s identification with the characters’ will to adapt to their lives and each other.

The cast:
Maddie Aicher (Daughter, Natalie Goodman) – Owen J. Roberts School District
Steven Burke (Son, Gabe Goodman) – Upper Merion School District
Drew Carr (Henry) – Spring-Ford Area School District
Greg Kasander (Father, Dan Goodman) – Gulph Mills, Pennyslvania
Denise Webb (Mother, Diana Goodman) – Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Kevin Ray Johnson (Dr. Madden) – Baltimore, Maryland

Next to Normal will be performed on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM September 14, 15, 21 & 22 and Sundays at 3 PM, September 16 & 23 at Steel River Playhouse, 245 East High Street, Pottstown. It is Directed by Kevin Laibson; Music Directed by Deborah Stimson-Snow. Next to Normal music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International.

In addition, on Sunday, September 16 following the performance audience members can ask questions of the director and cast during our Talkback. Single ticket prices are Adults $19, Seniors (65+) $17 and Students/Children $15. There are two changes in ticketing policy this season; groups of 10 or more get a higher discount – $3 off per ticket. And tickets bought online – www.steelriver.org – are the same price as tickets purchased at the box office.

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