Hello fans of the Rep! My name is Mo Brady, and I am playing Henry in the upcoming production of Next to Normal. The folks at the Rep have asked me to share some insights on the show from behind the scenes. As a lover of blogs, Twitter, Instagram and all things Internet, I am more than happy to oblige.
Next to Normal is my first show here at the Rep. In fact; it’s my first time ever in Little Rock. Traveling to a new city for a theater job is often a whirlwind. Usually, it involves flying half way across the country to an airport you’ve never been to. From there, you are picked up by someone you’ve never met and then whisked away to an apartment you’ve never seen but is now your temporary home.
Just about twelve hours later, you find yourself at the first rehearsal. Often it’s the first time you’re introduced to much of the cast and production team – people that will become your surrogate family for the run of the show. These first rehearsals usually are full of introductions, discussions of concepts, reviewing of schedules – and today’s first rehearsal was no exception.
However, at today’s rehearsal, I was struck at how grateful everyone was to be working on this show. Nicole Capri, our director, spoke passionately about this play. And she is not alone – Next to Normal is a piece that most actors are passionate about, as well. It’s something about the story – the struggle of a contemporary family, attempting to connect – set to a thrilling rock score that draws in actors, directors and audiences alike.
Next, Nicole leads us on a tour of the The Rep’s building. She points out where to find coffee in the morning (very important), and where we can get a drink after the show (also very important). My favorite part of the tour is seeing the auditorium itself, because it introduces us to the space that we will be sharing with you – the audience. This is the first time I’ve seen the theater, and I am surprised that there are not one, but two balconies. I love this, because it allows us to be closer to you in performances.
Following the tour, we jump into our first music rehearsal. Next to Normal features some beautiful, but complicated melodies. Often, all six actors are singing different words and different notes, all at the same time. It’s a thrilling score to sing – once you’ve learned it. But at first, it can be overwhelming to figure out how the pieces fit together. We learn the basics of two group numbers, knowing that we have a lot of homework tonight to review our newly learned vocal parts.
The full cast rehearsal is followed by a music rehearsal for just Kristin Parker and me. Kristin, who plays Natalie, and I share four brief, but beautiful songs in the show. These songs essentially define our relationship from start to finish, and they’re full of delicious acting nuggets. Last fall, I had the pleasure of auditioning with Kristin, before either of us were cast in the show. In that audition, I was struck at how fearless and open she was. I hoped that we would get to perform this material together. Today, I found myself feeling grateful to be singing with her again.
The most exciting part of my first rehearsal day was the costume fitting. I’m naturally a pretty straight-laced guy, so playing a stoner is a fun acting departure. The first thing I saw on the costume rack was a hoodie, which made me smile. Every time I imagine Henry, I picture him wearing a hoodie. As I tried on the various skinny jeans and porkpie hats, Shelly Hall (our costume designer) and I bounced ideas off of each other – What if we leave this shirt unbuttoned? Do I wear my hair up or down? What about guyliner? It was fun to see how Henry will look, as it will inform how I create the character in tomorrow’s rehearsal and the weeks to follow.
I’ll be posting to the blog each week, to give you the inside scope at how the production is coming together. I look forward to sharing this experience with all of you!
Mo Brady is originally from Seattle and made his Broadway debut in The Addams Family. He performed in the world premiere of Catch Me If You Can at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, as well as in six additional original productions at the theater. His performances in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Hello, Dolly! there won him a “Best of Seattle” Award from Seattle Weekly magazine. He has worked on many developmental productions and world premieres, including Villains Tonight! with Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen for Walt Disney Entertainment, Robin Hood with Martin Charnin and Snapshots with Stephen Schwartz, both at Village Theatre in Seattle. This fall, Mo performed in workshops of two Broadway-bound musicals: The Rhythm Club, directed by Casey Nicolaw, and The Honeymooners, directed by Jerry Mitchell. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Whitman College. Read more at www.mobrady.net. Follow @mo_brady on Twitter.