Queenie van de Zandt and Matt Hetherington headline Next To Normal re-opening in Melbourne

Next-to-Normal-photo-courtesy-of-James-Terry-CollectiveRe-opening next month, James Terry Collective’s production of Next to Normal will see Green Room and Helpmann Award winning actor, Matt Hetherington, reprise the role of Dan that he originated in the inaugural Australian production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical with the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) in 2011.

Hetherington joins Queenie van de Zandt, who stars, in the lead role of Diana Goodman, Melanie Bird as Natalie Goodman, Sam Richardson as Gabe Goodman, Hanlon Innocent as Henry, and Ross Chisari as Dr Madden and Dr Fine. Tomáš Kantor rounds out the cast as Henry Alternate and will cover the roles of Gabe Goodman and Dr Madden & Dr Fine.

This is the first time that Hetherington has returned to the role since his award-winning season more than 10 years ago and said the time felt right.

“Since stepping on stage as Dan with the MTC back in 2011 I have become a father – twice – and genuinely thrilled to be bringing this new perspective, and another decade of maturity, to the role,” he said.

“Over these years the conversation on mental health has also evolved, which means the incredible cast – headlined by Queenie – will bring a new level on insight and empathy to the audience. I genuinely can’t wait for the curtain to open in a matter of weeks,” said Hetherington.

With book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, Next To Normal’s unflinching look at a suburban family struggling with the effects of mental illness won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and won three Tony Awards, including Best Original Score. The musical also garnered three Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Production, during its pre-Broadway season at D.C.’s Arena Stage.

Next to Normal closed in Melbourne in July 2021 after just one performance due to the sudden state-wide lockdown, but producer, James Terry, said the response from the audience on its opening (and closing) night, and the passion and tenacity of the cast and creative team, drove him to bring the show back in 2022.

“As the cast took their first, and final, bow of the season, the audience sprung so quickly to a standing ovation, with the most thunderous applause,” said James. “It was a moment I’ll never forget. We were all in shock about closing – but I knew I couldn’t let it be the final curtain.”

The original creative team return including Mark Taylor (RENT, Bright Star) Choreographed by Freya List (RENT, Chess), and Musical Direction by Nathan Firmin (Bright Star, Memphis). The production also welcomes Ned Wright-Smith (Into The Woods) as Associated Musical Director.

“While Next to Normal had its Broadway debut in 2009, its themes of mental health and our need for connection seem even more relevant in 2022,” said Director Mark Taylor. “Despite some of the darkness of the story, the musical ultimately offers us hope and light – two things we need more than ever today.”

Next to Normal
Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Season: 18 – 26 March 2022
Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

Frankston Arts Centre, 27 – 37 Davey Street, Frankston
Season: 8 – 9 April 2022
Bookings: www.artscentre.frankston.vic.gov.au

For more information, visit: www.nexttonormal.com.au for details.

Image: The 2021 production of Next to Normal – photo courtesy of James Terry Collective