The Oregonian: ‘Next to Normal’ brings the topic of mental illness to the stage (column)

jenalisonJennifer Yamashiro, left, as Diana and Alison Luey as her daughter Natalie in Theatre in the Grove’s production of “Next to Normal.” The rock musical examines the effects of a mother’s mental illness on her life and her family. (Samantha Swindler/Staff)
By Samantha Swindler | The Oregonian/OregonLive
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on January 11, 2017 at 5:00 AM, updated January 12, 2017 at 9:57 AM

The musical “Next to Normal” is personal.

Not just because it’s community theater, and Forest Grove’s actors are regular people, not celebrities.

It’s personal because it’s not easy to talk about mental wellness, and here they are singing about it in rock musical and sharing what it means to them personally.

Read the Full Article Here

“Next to Normal” runs Jan. 13-29 at Theatre in the Grove, 2028 Pacific Ave., Forest Grove. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $14-16. Opening night includes a cash wine bar and meet and greet with cast. More info: theatreinthegrove.org

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Next to Normal Opens Jan.13th


n2nfinalwebForest Grove, OR (December 29, 2016) – Theatre in the Grove is proud to present Next to Normal with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt. Directed by Melanie Shaw, the production is a “feel-everything musical” that will be sure to showcase the performers vocal talents.

Theatre in the Grove is excited to present Next to Normal, winner of three Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Next to Normal stretches the boundaries of traditional musical theater by tackling the difficult subject of mental illness.  Dad’s an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches and pour cereal; their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens, appearing to be a typical American family. And yet their lives are anything but normal. The story centers on Diana, a suburban mother dealing with manic depression, and the effect her illness as well as her treatments have on her family. The story is told with great humor, and unflinching honesty.  It is a story about love and family, about holding tight, and about letting go.

This deeply moving piece of theatre provides a wonderful opportunity for performers to explore dramatic material and showcase vocal talents with an energetic pop/rock score. Theatre in the Grove favorites, James Grimes, Jennifer Yamashiro, and Alison Luey give you unflinching, authentic performances punctuated with the talented Jonathan Swartout, Ky Fifer, and Luis Ventura.  Next to Normal is an emotional powerhouse that addresses such issues as grieving loss, psychiatric intervention, and suburban life.

Next to Normal was also chosen as “one of the year’s ten best shows” by critics around the country, including The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

The show is, in the words of The New York Times, “much more than a feel-good musical; it is a feel-everything musical.”

A tremendously moving and intimate musical about deeply complicated and flawed human beings, Next to Normal  is a natural fit for the kind of storytelling and musical talent at Theatre in the Grove.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:
January 13 – January 29, 2017

Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times, please visit
theatreinthegrove.org or call 503-359-5349

Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors (60 and over) and youths (17 and under).

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Next to Normal contains mature themes and language. Parental discretion is advised.

The box office is open on Wednesdays 4 to 6 p.m. and one hour before each performance.

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James and the Giant Peach, Jr. Cast Announced!

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CAST:

Ladahlord…..Orion Cox
James…..Jared Klingler
Ladybug…..Kada Switzer
Grasshopper…..Justice Williams
Spider…..Katie Rice
Earthworm…..Quentin Van Dyke
Centipede…..Kassie Switzer
Spiker…..Athena Van Dyke
Sponge…..Hannah Wilson

The most Fan-tas-marific and Remark-u-lous Ensemble Players:
Abra Freeman, Alayna Izen, Althea Harrelson, Andrew Inman, Aubrey McLain, Bryn Woods, Elanor Wilger, Gwendolyn Woods, Hallie Bartell, Hannah Timm, Irene VanDyke, Lindsey Vuylsteke, Luella Harrelson, Madelyn Lambert, Madison Howarth, Mikala Hoffman, Nathan White, Nicolas Tognoli, Paloma Paz-Rickard, Peri Wineland, Rylie Bartell, Sam Dennis, Sophia Buhler, Sydney Timm, Thomas Tollefson, Vito Bair

Please note other roles and featured characters will be chosen from the Ensemble Players.

Thank you to all that auditioned — we were completely in awe of all the talent!

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Last Weekend to enjoy the Holiday Hit: A Christmas Story!

There’s only one more weekend to enjoy A Christmas Story! Read what Westside Theatre Review had to say about the show: 

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TITG Tells A Seldom Seen Christmas Story


David Reece, Carter Dawes, Sam Ruder, and Patti Speight
Photo by by Nicole Mae Photography

By Tina Arth
It seems like everybody is familiar with the 1983 “instant classic” version of A Christmas Story, and 2012’s A Christmas Story – The Musical can be found on stages all around the country. Often overlooked in all of this rush to holiday nostalgia is Philip Grecian’s utterly charming 2000 play version, but Theatre In the Grove is doing a great job of addressing this slight with their current offering. The play is small, intimate, and just loaded with both comedy and real heart – a perfect way for families old and young to spend a few hours getting into the spirit of the season.
Like the larger and flashier movie and musical, the straight play explores the magic and peril of getting what we want, primarily through the tale of young Ralphie’s obsessive pursuit of the perfect Christmas present, a Red Ryder BB Gun, in the face of relentless opposition. Everyone in his life – his parents, teacher, friends, even Santa Claus is sure that he’ll shoot his eye out (which, naturally, he very nearly does).  Ralphie’s quest is echoed by his father’s addiction to entering contests, including the one where he finally wins a hideous lamp (we’ve all seen it – the leg with mesh stockings disappearing into a fringed antique shade). Because the tale is being told through the eyes and memories of adult Ralph, everything we see is colored by the mists of a past recollected. Was the lamp really that hideous? Was little brother Randy really that pathetic (and more important, did he really wet himself while sitting on Santa’s lap?) Did the Old Man really swear constantly, and did Mother manage to overlook it while stuffing a bar of Lifebuoy soap into Ralphie’s mouth for uttering, just once, the “F” word? In the end, we are sure only that Ralph’s most enduring memories are of the warmth, understanding, and love of family and good friends.

While I saw a number of fine performances, the team of adult Ralph (Travis Schlegel) and Ralphie (Sam Ruder) fill their respective roles with real distinction, constantly passing from Ralph’s narration to Ralphie’s action. At first I had a hard time seeing them as the same person, but Schlegel gradually grows more childlike as the show progresses, and by the end he is every bit as much a kid as his much younger alter ego. Ruder is developing into quite a comic – his turn as a pathetic victim of Lifebuoy poisoning is particularly funny.

Patti Speight and David Reece (as Mother and the Old Man) face the challenge of portraying characters as they are in Ralph’s constantly evolving memories. Just like with real parents, they are sometimes harsh, rigid authoritarians and at other times surprisingly understanding allies, but every word and emotion has to be filtered through the lens of Ralph’s recollection. Reed does an amazing job of delivering the faux curses that lace the script – not a single dirty word is uttered onstage, but the range of homonyms is hilariously imaginative. Young stage veteran Carter Dawes (as little brother Randy) demands special mention, not only for his skill at portraying a truly screwed up little kid but for his courage in constantly crying out in front of a theater full of strangers that he “has to go wee-wee.”

Director/set designer Ron Hansen and set dresser Samantha Swindler have just the right touches in the set. The necessary 1940’s ambience is nicely captured with dreary colors, an old radio, and a period kitchen that could have been in any working class Forest Grove household of the era.

This version of A Christmas Story is a lot of fun for adults and kids, and will make a great holiday theater outing for local families and those of us who just like remembering how Christmas used to be in the good old days before the advent of the internet, cell phones, video games and a host of other modern marvels.

A Christmas Story is playing at Theatre in the Grove, 2028 Pacific Avenue, Forest Grove through December 18th,with performances Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

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James and the Giant Peach, JR. AUDITIONS Announced!

Sunday, Dec. 11th & Monday Dec. 12th

“Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world”

                                                         — Roald Dahl

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Auditions will be at 6:30pm on Sunday, December 11 and Monday, December 12 at Theatre in the Grove, 2028 Pacific Avenue, Forest Grove.

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Jesus Christ Superstar AUDITIONS Announced!

JAN. 15 & 16
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Auditions for Theatre in the Grove’s production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR are
7 p.m. Jan.15 and 16
at Theatre in the Grove, 2028 Pacific Avenue in Forest Grove

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