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    Bit to Do

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    I have seen four productions from Acting Against Cancer now, including Spring Awakening, RENT, Rocky Horror, and Next to Normal. I feel like the group dynamic that is obvious in each show is constantly evolving. Of course, I know that each show comes with a different plot and new characters, but the entirety of the group is just getting better and better. I am having so much trouble picking my favorite show, but it seems that each one has a special meaning to me nonetheless. Next to Normal was chilling and comical, yet realistic. The cast members include Sydney Magers (Diana), Remy Sisk (Gabe), Wesley Thomas (Dan), Kelsey Cox (Natalie), Miller Kraps (Henry), and Blake Cox (Doctor Madden). Directed by Whitten Montgomery and musically directed by Charlie Meredith, this show is definitely one that cannot be missed. I have to spill the beans about Next to Normal now, so if you have never heard of this musical, then be prepared for some major spoiler alerts below.

    The musical begins with an ordinary family, and it looks as if they are getting ready for the day. There are two kids, Gabe and Natalie, a working father named Dan, and a loving mother named Diana. Everyone is rushing around because they are running behind, and suddenly they all notice that Diana is preparing sandwiches on the floor. Dan tends to her, and he tells the children to head off to school. "Just Another Day" is playing through this madness. I started to feel like their morning was generally my morning each day: frantic, a little behind. Sydney, Remy, Kelsey, and Wesley really shined at this moment as they sang together. I was quickly captivated by Sydney’s performance, in particular her singing voice. I also learned that this was the first Acting Against Cancer show for Wesley Thomas, though he's been a member of the Kentucky Opera Chorus for the last five years. 

    Natalie, a brilliant pianist, is in the middle of practice for an upcoming recital. While singing “Everything Else,” she is interrupted by another student named Henry (Miller Kraps). He seems to be a pivotal character at this moment. He notices her, and he clearly has an interest in her, but she is unaware of who he is. The humorous part in all of this is that he admits he actually sits by her in one of their classes. Kelsey, who plays Natalie, has been in a few shows with Acting Against Cancer before, but I must say that Next to Normal really showcased her talents in a new and exciting way. I have seen her as a supporting character, but it’s great to finally see her in the spotlight where she belongs. Miller, on the other hand, made his Acting Against Cancer debut with this show, and he is clearly the “good guy” of the play, even though everyone is suffering through some sort of dysfunction.

    Diana attends several doctor appointments, and it is then made known that she has suffered from bipolar disorder for sixteen years. She has also been experiencing vivid hallucinations. Doctor Madden adjusts her medication until she is numb, and at this point he believes that she is stable and free to go. Her hallucinations get the best of her at some of these appointments. She sees her doctor as some kind of sexual rock god known as Doctor Fine. Blake essentially took on two different roles for his second performance with Acting Against Cancer. He seems to enjoy the parts that come with a lot of humor. 

    A separate storyline ensues in this musical between Natalie and Henry. They grow very close, and he eventually tells her that he loves her while “Perfect For You” plays to their first kiss. Diana sees this, but she is unable to feel much of anything. She misses her emotions, and after the song “I Miss the Mountains,” she flushes her medication down the toilet with the help of her son. The biggest shock of the show came when Diana, Dan, Natalie, and the invited guest, Henry, sat down to dinner. Diana entered the room with a birthday cake for her son, Gabe. Dan walks over to her and begins to tell her that their son died sixteen years ago when he was an infant. The fact that she had been seeing him earlier in the show only proved the extent of her hallucinations. Diana is eventually torn between reality, and her mind is trying to tell her that Gabe is alive. Remy really brought a rocking rendition of “I’m Alive” to this scene. You can watch a video of this song here. I have seen Remy perform in several shows now, and I always find that he is so energetic and fun. 

    I won't spoil the ending of the show for you. There's much more to the storyline, but I'll leave it to you to find that out. The cast worked so well together as a family, and so many people in the audience were moved to tears, and to a standing ovation at the end. The show is running from February 6 to February 9 at the MeX Theater in the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Tickets are $19 and can be purchased here. 100% of the profits will go toward the fulfillment of Acting Against Cancer’s $100,000 pledge to the art therapy program of The Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center at Kosair Children’s Hospital.

    Come see the show, support a great cause, and discover a little something that’s not so normal after all.

    Krystin Robertson's picture

    About Krystin Robertson

    My name is Krystin. I live in the city of Louisville, Kentucky. I love to take pictures, support local businesses, drink tons of coffee, and write about this wonderful thing called life.

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