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Tantrum Stages Pulitzer Prize Winning Rock Musical, Next to Normal

Tantrum Stages Pulitzer Prize Winning Rock Musical, Next to Normal

Jun 27, 2018


Tantrum Theater will continue its third season with the Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical, “Next to Normal,” with music by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, running July 11–July 29 at the Abbey Theater in Dublin. The production is under the direction of Robert Barry Fleming, who returns to Tantrum after directing last year’s acclaimed “Caroline, or Change.”

Father, mother, sister, brother. The Goodmans may seem like a comfortable family, but they’re just trying to make it through another day. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and three Tony Awards, this emotional rollercoaster of a rock musical twists through suburban life in contemporary America with honesty and heart. Examining one family’s struggles with mental illness, medication, and grief, “Next to Normal” offers hope for self-acceptance even when nothing is truly normal.

Returning Director Robert Barry Fleming serves as associate artistic director for the Cleveland Play House, where he recently directed “The Royale.” Fleming formerly served as director of artistic programming at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and has directed, choreographed and acted in eminent theaters across the country, including the Public Theater, the Old Globe and the Goodman. Fleming is also the production’s choreographer.
Jordan Cooper serves as musical director for the production, joining Tantrum from recent productions of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at the Cleveland Play House and “Memphis the Musical” at Cain Park. The creative team from last year’s “Caroline, or Change” returns alongside Fleming, including Scenic Designer Jason Ardizzone-West, who recently designed NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live,” as well as the Lana Del Rey World Tour.

Returning as costume designer is Lex Liang, whose work has been seen on the stage of the Alliance Theatre, Cleveland Play House and La Jolla Playhouse among others. They are joined by Lighting Designer Michael Lincoln, head of Ohio University’s Theater Division, whose 300-plus lighting design credits include the Broadway production and national tours of “Copenhagen,” the Playwrights Horizons production of “The Bubbly Black Girl…” and the Cleveland Play House production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and Sound Designer Jane Shaw, whose credits include work at the Cleveland Play House, Hartford Stage and the Cincinnati Playhouse. Production Dramaturg Trip Venturella and Assistant Director Jonathan Hetler are M.F.A. candidates in Ohio University’s Theater Division. 

Leading a six-member cast in the role of Diana Goodman, Kelsey Venter makes her Tantrum debut with previous credits at the American Conservatory Theater and the Old Globe Theater, among others. Joining her is Marc delaCruz (Dan), who made his Broadway debut in the original cast of “If/Then,” also by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, and recently appeared in “Vietgone” at Studio Theatre in Washington, D. C. In the role of Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine is Travis Kent, who appeared on Broadway in “Disaster!” and whose additional credits include work at Abingdon Theater Company and HERE Arts Center.

In the role of Gabe is Riley McFarland, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan’s musical theatre department who was recently seen in the second national tour of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” He is joined by recent alumni of Ohio University’s B.F.A. performance program Bradley McKelvey-Askin (Natalie) and Tyler Tanner (Henry).

Listen to Fleming talk with Athens NPR affiliate WOUB.ORG here!

July 11–29, 2018
Next to Normal

Music by Tom Kitt
Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Directed by Robert Barry Fleming
Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI)



Tantrum Theater's First Play of 2018, The Cake, a Balanced Take on a Hot Topic

The reviews for Tantrum's production of The Cake, staged June 6–24,  reflect an even-handed, humane, and balanced production, a careful handling of a highly politicized issue. Opening the same week as media attention ramped up over the US Supreme Court's Masterpiece Bake Shop Vs. Colorado decision, the play examines what happens when an otherwise perfectly amiable baker finds her conservative beliefs challenged by being tasked to craft a wedding cake for a friend’s queer daughter. Directed by Shelley Delaney, and staring Merri Biechler as Della, and Ohio University Acting program alumna Kelsey Rodriguez, who is playing the part of Macey, one of the brides just looking for a gluten-free cake.


Columbus Underground
Big Laughs and Tenderness in Tantrum Theater’s Regional Premiere of The Cake

‘The Cake’: a Comedy About The Other, Fear, and True Belief 

Columbus Dispatch
Tantrum Theater’s The Cake Tackles Topical Issue With Humanity

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