Westport, Connecticut- Westport Country Playhouse will present “Next to Normal: Dig Deeper”, a series of special events, free and open to the community, surrounding the first production of its 2022 season, the pop/rock musical, “Next to Normal”, from the April 6 to 24. The events will allow the community to better understand the production and its themes.
No show tickets are required to attend the programs. Guests are asked to arrive at the Playhouse approximately two hours and thirty minutes after curtain time; events will begin immediately after the performance. All participants will be required to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and wear a mask inside the Playhouse. For updates on Covid-19 health and safety protocols at the Playhouse, visit https://www.westportplayhouse.org/visit/covid19safety/
“Next to Normal” is about a family coping with the mother’s bipolar issues. The musical takes audiences inside the minds and hearts of each family member, presenting their story with love, compassion and wit.
“With a pop/rock musical that pushes the boundaries of structure and story, we want to invite audiences and our community into a dialogue and provide resources,” said Liam Lonegan, Playhouse’s Deputy Artistic Director. “This guest panel, hosted by Jenny Nelson, Director of Education and Community Engagement for Roz and Bud Siegel at The Playhouse, will help connect the show to mental health, community and song issues.”
Tom Kitt, composer of “Next to Normal”, will be the guest of a Sunday symposium on Sunday, April 10, following the matinee performance at 3 p.m. Kitt will discuss the musical which received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and two Tony Awards® for Best Score and Best Orchestration. Kitt is also the composer of “Flying Over Sunset,” which recently performed at the Lincoln Center Theater. The symposium is moderated by David Kennedy, associate artistic director of Playhouse.
Other programs open to the community include post-play dialogues with the audience. The first will be a conversation about the music of “Next to Normal” and its importance to the subject on Thursday, April 7. The dialogue will be moderated by Liam Lonegan, Deputy Artistic Director, and Jenny Nelson, Roz and Bud Siegel Director of Education and Community Engagement. Lonegan founded Egg & Spoon Theater Collective in 2017. He received his BFA from Syracuse University, where he was the General Manager of Black Box Players. Nelson is Associate Artistic Director of Collective Consciousness, a social justice theater company in New Haven. She earned a master’s degree in theater from the University of Arizona and a second master’s degree in education from Fairfield University.
Pastoral counseling services and spiritual well-being will be discussed with the Rev. Dr. Bernard R. Wilson, senior minister at Norfield Congregational Church, Weston, on Tuesday, April 12. Dr. Wilson is a retired Navy chaplain who has received numerous awards, medals and citations. for his distinguished 22-year military career. Dr. Wilson has served as assistant professor of preaching at New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Howard University School of Divinity for Continuing Education. He serves on the board of the David and Dovetta Wilson Scholarship Fund (DDWSF) with his eight siblings (www.WilsonFund.org).
A perspective on the mental health themes of the musical will be presented by Jeffrey Borenstein, MD, President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the largest private funder of mental health research grants, Tuesday, April 19. Dr. Borenstein will explain how to live with and support people struggling with mental illness, and share new scientific research to improve their lives. Dr. Borenstein developed and hosts the Emmy-nominated public television series “sound mindsand is also editor of Psychiatric News, the journal of the American Psychiatric Association.
Resources for community members living with mental illness will be explored by Linda Autore, President and CEO of Laurel House, Stamford, on Friday April 22. Under his leadership, two innovative programs, Thinking Well (Cognitive Remediation) and www.rtor.org, a gateway to specialized mental health services, have been developed and implemented to fill gaps in community mental health services. Autore is a member of the Silver Hill Hospital Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of the Opening Doors Fairfield County Coordinating Council.
In addition to the post-show events, a pre-show guided meditation group workshop will be led by Thema Haida, co-founder of One Village Healing (OVH), New Haven, on Saturday, April 16, from 2-2:45 p.m., before the 3:00 p.m. performance. The meditation will not only prepare the audience about the show, but also connect the story to the community, promoting healthy mindfulness in the lives of participants. Haida is a Certified Usui/Holy Fire Reiki Master Teacher, Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Instructor, and Certified Advanced Metaphysical Healing Practitioner. Space is limited; RSVP tohttps://bit.ly/WCPmeditationN2N.
The corporate producing partner for “Next to Normal” is longtime Playhouse contributor Bank of America. Bill Tommins, President of Bank of America Southern Connecticut, said, “Bank of America appreciates the Playhouse’s integral role in our local arts landscape. Over the past two years, our local arts and culture community has been challenged like never before, yet the value of experience through theater has never been more evident. We are thrilled and honored to support ‘Next to Normal’ and look forward to continuing our partnership with the Playhouse as they welcome our community back. »
The production sponsor is Artistic productions by Czekaj. Additional support is provided by cthumanities. Media sponsors for the 2022 season are Moffly Media and WSHU Public Radio.
Single tickets for “Next to Normal” start at $35 during preview performances (April 6-8) and beginning on opening night April 9, tickets start at $50 and are subject to change depending on availability. Buy early for the best prices. For more information on special offers, including discounts for students, seniors, educators, military and first responders, Indigenous peoples, professional playwrights and groups, as well as options to pay this you want and the Westport Library Pass, visit www.westportplayhouse.org/visit/box-office/.
All game titles, artists, dates and times are subject to change.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.westportplayhouse.org, or call the box office at (203) 227-4177, toll free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse) and on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse).
Attached photo: Tom Kitt, composer of “Next to Normal”, will be the guest speaker at the Westport Country Playhouse on Sunday 10 April.
ABOUT WESTPORT COUNTRY PLAYHOUSE
Westport Country Playhouse’s mission is to enrich, enlighten and engage the community through the power of professionally produced theater of the highest caliber and the welcoming experience of the Playhouse campus. The non-profit Playhouse delivers this experience in multiple ways by providing the highest quality live theater experiences under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos; educational and community engagement events to further explore stage work; the New Works Initiative, a program dedicated to the discovery, development and production of new live theater works; shows and special programs for students and teachers with extensive curriculum support material; Script in Hand plays readings to deepen relationships with audiences and artists; the renowned Woodward Internship Program during the summer months for aspiring theater professionals; Family celebration events to delight young and old and promote reading through live theatre; and the beautiful and historic Playhouse campus open year-round for entertainment and community events. Charity Navigator recently awarded the Playhouse its highest 4-star charitable rating in recognition of its strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.