Venice Theatre tackles emotional subject with Tony and Pulitzer winner, Next to Normal; The intense, uplifting rock opera runs April 9 – 26 in the Pinkerton Theatre

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Venice Theatre tackles emotional subject with Tony and Pulitzer winner, Next to Normal

The intense, uplifting rock opera runs April 9 – 26 in the Pinkerton Theatre


(Venice, FL) Venice Theatre’s final Stage II production of the 2014-2015 Season will be the contemporary musical Next to Normal. The show will open on the theatre’s Pinkerton Stage Thursday, April 9 and run through Sunday, April 26, 2015. Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $28 for adults, $15 for college students and $13 for children and youth up to 12th grade. They are on sale now at the theatre’s box office located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. in Venice, online at or by phone at 941-488-1115. The production is generously sponsored by Laura B. Kopple Realty, Inc.


Next to Normal explores a middle-class American family living with the effects of bipolar disorder. The Broadway production, with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a category most often reserved for straight plays. The Pulitzer Board called it, “a powerful rock musical that grapples with mental illness in a suburban family and expands the scope of subject matter for musicals.” The show also earned the 2009 Tony Awards for Best Original Score, Best Orchestration and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.


In its review, The New York Times raved, “Next to Normal throbs with an emotional intensity that cannot be dismissed … Mr. Kitt’s music has a seared sweetness that evokes layers of conflicted feelings, particularly of warring anger and love.”


The Washington Post described the groundbreaking show as “melodic and blisteringly honest.” About the Florida Studio Theatre production, Sarasota critic Jay Handelman wrote, “Diana’s struggles and the impact on her family provide a surprising sense of inspiration and rejuvenation.”


Venice Theatre’s production of this ambitious piece is in the capable hands of director Brad Wages and music director Michelle Kasanofsky. It features an experienced group of performers with Kim Kollar as Diana Goodman and Chris Caswell as her supportive husband, Dan. Booker High School senior Zach Herman plays their son Gabe and Caitlin Longstreet Ellis their over-achieving daughter, Natalie. Jason Ellis plays Natalie’s boyfriend and Kelly Leisler rounds out the cast as two of Diana’s doctors.


At a recent Venice Theatre Guild function where he presented a song and scene from the musical, Wages said, “I am thrilled to have found the perfect cast for this powerful show. I want people to know that even though Next to Normal deals with hard hitting issues, it is uplifting and even funny at times. I urge everyone to come see this show. You will laugh, cry, learn and be moved.”


Tickets for Next to Normal and all Venice Theatre shows through June 2015 are available at the box office at 941-488-1115 or online at  Subscriptions for 2015-2016 are also on sale. Venice Theatre is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. on the island in Venice. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday; and one hour before all performances.



Next to Normal

Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey; Music by Tom Kitt


Production Staff

Director/Choreographer – Brad Wages

Stage Manager – Sue Brennan

Technical Director –John Andzulis

Scenic Designers – Allan Kollar and Brad Wages

Lighting Designer – Ryan Mueller

Costume Designer – Nicholas Hartman

Sound Designer – Dorian Boyd



Diana Goodman – Kim Kollar

Dan Goodman – Chris Caswell

Gabe Goodman – Zach Herman

Natalie Goodman – Caitlin Longstreet Ellis

Henry – Jason Ellis

Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine – Kelly Leisler


ATTACHED PHOTOS (Credit: Renee McVety)

4852 – Kim Kollar stars as Diana, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and struggles to find a medication regime that works for her.

4844 – Zach Herman as Gabe, accepts a piece of birthday cake from his mother, Diana (Kim Kollar) while Dan (Chris Caswell) comforts Natalie (Caitlin Longstreet Ellis) who sometimes feels invisible next to her “super boy” brother.

4832 Next to Normal honestly portrays a family going through an emotional crisis. Zach Herman plays Gabe, Kim Kollar is Diana, Chris Caswell is Dan and Caitlin Longstreet Ellis is Natalie.


Tickets: 941-488-1115

Venice Theatre’s mission is making a dramatic impact on all stages of life. The second-largest out of 10,000 community theatres in the United States, it is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave .on the island in Venice, FL. Its MainStage offers seating for 432 patrons and features musicals, plays, concerts and special events.  Its Yvonne Pinkerton Theatre seats 90 patrons and is home to the theatre’s “Generations”, Stage II and Cabaret Series. In addition to providing entertainment to the community, Venice Theatre has a wide range of education and outreach programs for children and adults.

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