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Cast of next to normal from L to R back row: C.Lee Bates, Director; Maxim David, Kodi Cameron, Wendy Berkelaar, Musical Director; Jeremy Sanders, Skye MacDiarmid, Justice Tremblay and DJ Eyamie. Photo by Alison Foley-Howard.

next to normal returns to Centrepointe Theatre

By Hollie James on October 16, 2015

 ”I Don’t Feel Anything”. Patient Stable

After great success last year, indie women productions has scheduled a second run of next to normal – a raw, provocative and engaging story portrayed as a rock musical, running from October 20th to 24th at the Centrepointe Studio Theatre. Directed by C. Lee Bates, Skye MacDiarmid is reintroduced as Diana again this year, a wife and mother deeply struggling with worsening bipolar disorder, while Justice Tremblay also reprises her role as Natalie, the daughter.

next to normal 1Joining them are newbies to this particular production (although you won’t notice it) Derek Eyamie as Dan, Jeremy Sanders as Gabe, Maxim David as Henry, and Kodi Cannon as the doctors.  Behind the scenes are the ever important Musical Director, Wendy Berkelaar, and Choreographer Christa Cullain.

With everything coming together seamlessly, the audience will be exposed to the tangled web of ways in which mental illness drastically effects not only the patient, but the entire family dynamic as a whole. Furthermore, the show incorporates some darker and heavier material by breaching the subject of a variety of mental health issues including grief, suicide, drug abuse, and ethics in modern psychiatry.

The original musical opened on Broadway in 2009  – winning  three Tony awards and a Pulitzer prize. Although Diana carries the label of “bipolar depressive with delusional episodes”, much has changed concerning mental health since the writing of the script in 2002. While at the time this would have been correct, there is currently no such diagnosis. Regardless, the magic that this cast and crew have created (by rehearsing voluntarily 12 hours a week, on top of day jobs) is surely ground-breaking.

With mental health issues still largely being swept under the rug, next to normal is kicking the doors wide open, and is subsequently filled with hope and humour, terrific singing and acting, as one family desperately strives to figure out what “normal” really is, or if it even exists at all. To top off this all around awesomeness, the event is also a fundraiser for The Royal Ottawa Hospital, which raked in a very generous donation of $15,000 last year.

indie women productions produces high quality community theatre, with a focus on plays and musicals that feature strong female roles. They also seek to produce socially relevant theatre that educates and raises awareness through an entertaining context. Additionally, they commit to include fundraising for charitable organizations as an element of every production.

next to normal runs from October 20 – 24, 2015 at Centrepointe Theatres (Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive). Tickets are $23.75 (opening night) and $28.75 and can be purchased online, by calling 613-580-2700 or in person at the Centrepointe Box Office. SHow starts at 7:30.