Tarleton performs “Next to Normal”

Renee Burns

Multimedia Journalist

The musical “Next to Normal” was performed at the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center from Feb. 19 through the 22, by Tarleton State University students and members of the community.

Written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, the musical tells the story of a mother’s journey with mental illness. The production begins with the mom, Diana, giving birth to her first son and ends with scenes of the present.

Director Prudence Jones said the musical “is about a mother named Diana, who has bipolar disorder, as she is going through a tough time while coping with her medication and her illness. It tells the story of her, her daughter, her son and her husband.”

Jones picked this production because of its focus on mental health and believes it presents the discussion in a format that college students can connect with.

The set of “Next to Normal” built by the cast and crew
Photo courtesy of Renee Burns

“I picked this particular production because of the meaning and the significance of it. Mental illness is something that needs to be talked about and addressed in more of a public setting. And this particular play—Tony Award winning, Pulitzer Prize winning—really covers it in a fantastic way which I think college students will really get and understand,” Jones said.

Cameron Bishop, a freshman theater major who played the character Gabe, also liked the show because of the way it depicts mental illness. Additionally, he was excited about this production being a musical.

“I love musicals. I love music, so I thought it would be good for me to audition,” Bishop said.

Cheyenne Nash, a sophomore musical theatre major, took on the roles of run crew, wardrobe crew and was the understudy for both female roles.

“I like being on wardrobe crew because it’s really intense for having five seconds to change a costume. … And then it’s done!” Nash said.

Mary Claunch, a senior generalist theatre major, has worked on many productions with Tarleton as a hair and makeup designer.

“I really enjoy transforming someone into a new person,” Claunch said. “It means looking at someone’s face and determining their character and deciding how would this character feel about this day. Would they care what they looked like? Then sometimes it’s fantasy where you can create a whole new person just by painting their faces.”

The theatre department’s next production “Top Girls” premieres on March 31. For more information visit Theatre at Tarleton Facebook page.

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