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Family Ties

'Next to Normal' returns to North Bay

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MATTERS OF THE MIND Anthony Martinez and Alison Peltz reprise their roles in Pulitzer-winning musical. - ERIC CHAZANKIN
  • Eric Chazankin
  • MATTERS OF THE MIND Anthony Martinez and Alison Peltz reprise their roles in Pulitzer-winning musical.

'It never occurred to me, when we were doing Next to Normal last year, that we'd be doing it again in the future," says director Kim Bromley, discussing this month's resurrection of the critically acclaimed musical drama she helmed last April for Novato Theater Co.

"And now here we are, all together again, getting ready to return to a show we put our hearts and souls into."

The Pulitzer-winning play, by Brian Yorkey, with music by Tom Kitt, is a rock musical about the power of healing and self-discovery. The story unfolds in a modern American family where the mom, Dianna, is beginning to show symptoms of the illness that once put her on a regimen of psychiatric treatments and medications. Fierce, funny, deeply moving and profoundly intelligent, the play itself is a knockout, and NTC's production was a huge hit for the company.

When the show closed, Bromley's directorial radar did not yet indicate that a revival—with the same cast and musical team in place—was on the horizon. Through cast member Anthony Martinez, a frequent artist at Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park, a conversation was begin as to how Next to Normal might be brought north in early 2015.

Fortunately, Bromley and crew had had the foresight to hold on to the set pieces, props and costumes. This is good, since rebuilding designer David Shirk's gorgeous two-story set from scratch might have been a deal-killer.

"Starting last August, we've been getting together once a month or so, just gathering and singing the show through from beginning to end," explains Bromley. "It's sort of remarkable, how much of the show everyone remembered after all those months. The cast all still had it in them. Over the next few months, we had a rehearsal with our musical director to go over all the music and another with our choreographer to go over all the dancing, just to keep it all fresh."

While the goal is to deliver the same show that earned them the remounted production, Bromley points out that the change of venue—from NTC's relatively intimate space to Spreckels' much larger theater—will have its own unpredictable effect on the production.

"Under all of the difficulties this family is facing," notes Bromley, "these are people who truly love each other. Audiences felt that in Novato, and I believe they're going to fall in love with this family all over again."

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