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Nelson teens stage trailblazing musical

Nelson teens stage trailblazing musical

A musical about depression may sound like a weird mix, but it won a Pulitzer and three ‘Tony’ awards on Broadway in 2010 and now a Nelson drama school is bringing the show to the Suter Theatre.

Actor and drama teacher Tami Mansfield who runs the Off Broadway Performing Arts School is directing Next to Normal at the Suter on Jul 4-6. She says staging the show was her students’ idea.

They came to me and said ‘this is the musical we want to perform’,” she says. “They see it as important to share, especially in our culture – they want to show that with mental health issues people can get better. Other messages of the show are that no one is alone, we all have problems, it’s okay to talk about it - the cost of pretending is too high.”

Mansfield says she’s really impressed at the commitment and talent of her students and thrilled to have financial support from Nelson Mental Health Services with the cost of hiring the theatre. However, she says ticket sales are still to take off.

“This is a great show, it does have heavy themes, but it’s funny and the music is great,” she says. “These kids are so talented it will be an amazing show…everyone is putting so much work into it, we really don’t want people to miss it because we don’t have money to advertise. Nelson has been very good to us since we moved here so I’m optimistic that people will come along and help us to make this show happen.”

Next to Normal is about a couple who lose one of their children and can't cope. 16 years later, daughter Natalie takes a self-destructive path due to her parents’ neglect. She meets 16-year-old Henry, a ‘bit of a stoner’ who shows her love for the first time. Diana, her mother, has manic depression and their lives are consumed with pills, doctors, and hospital visits; while Dan, the father, ‘protects’ them from the conversations that actually need to happen. The result is shocking with some surprising and haunting twists.

Eighteen year old Natalie Davies plays Diana, a 43 year old mother and wife suffering from manic depression. She says the fact that something like this is being brought forward by kids, is extremely powerful, and shows something for our generation.

“We brought this show to Tami because we wanted to deliver the message that it is okay to talk about things that are hurting you, and that you don't have to ‘drink a glass of concrete and harden up’,” she says. “We are saying that sweeping feelings under the rug doesn't have the desired effect, and can hurt others as much as it can hurt you.”

Next to Normal pulls at all the feelings, with a heartbreakingly beautiful score and a brilliant and surprising story’ - Frank Rick, New York Times.

Next to Normal will be staged by Off Broadway, directed by Tami Mansfield at The Suter Theatre at 7pm Fri, Sat, and Sundayplus a 2pm matinee on Saturday. PG 13 is advised. Tickets at Everyman and at the door.

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