ETC Kicks Off 2018 With Musical About Finding One's Place

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga will present Next to Normal Jan. 19-28 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. It will be performed at Midtown Central, 5705 Uptain Road.  Call 987-5141 for ticket information. 

Review for Next to Normal:

The award winning musical Next to Normal by Bryan Yorkey and Tom Kitt is a masterful story about a family on the brink of self-discovery.  A mother stuck in a destructive past, a father stuck in veiled present, a daughter stuck in fearful future, and a caring son who doesn’t know who to help or how to help them. 

"Next to Normal is the kind of musical that tears right into the story with no apologies for the emotional journey it takes you on,” said director Garry Lee Posey.  “It deals with grief, avoidance, depression, self-confidence, psychological and emotional projection, denial, love and hope.” 

The musical’s authors originally penned the piece as a short musical about electro-shock therapy, after seeing a television news source do a special on this seemingly archaic form of psychotherapy.  The interest of that short piece turned into a successful Off-Broadway production and then had a successful on Broadway.  It was the first musical, following Rent, to have earned the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Drama. 

The cast features a mix veterans and newcomers to the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga stage.  Veteran ETC performer Kyle Dagnan takes on the challenging role of the Dan, the father.  Newcomer to ETC, Mary Beth Torgerson tackles the even more psychologically challenging role of Diana, the mother.  Veteran ETC performer Normand Caissie and newcomer to ETC Megan Cobb play Gabe and Natalie, Dan and Diane’s children.  Rounding the small ensemble cast are veteran ETC performer Ryan Laskoswki as Doctor Fine/Doctor Madden and newcomer Joseph Watts as Natalie’s boyfriend Henry. 

The production features music direction by Terry Sanford and is stage managed by Marcia Parks, both of whom have worked with ETC before. 

“It’s been a pleasure working with this fiercely talented group on such a powerful show, possibly one of the best I’ve seen at ETC,” said Ms. Parks.  Normand Caissie, who played Jesus in the 2016 ETC production of Godspell, has this to say about his experience on Next to Normal: “This musical is so complex, the characters and story are so layered and its thrilling to be able to breathe life into them both.” 

In its 11th year of producing theatre and contributing to the cultural landscape of Chattanooga, ETC has chosen the theme of family for their 2018 season.  Dancing at Lughnasa by Brien Friel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stpehens based on the novel by Mark Haddon, Honk! The Musical by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, And Things That Go Bump in the Night by Terrence McNally and The Long Christmas Ride Home by Paula Vogel. 

“It’s an exciting season for us this year and an exciting time in the life of our organization,” said board president Leigh Anne Battersby. “We invite you to kick off the 2018 theatre calendar with ETC and Next to Normal.”




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