Next to Normal: Hiking as Henry

I’m a hiker. On the very first day of Next to Normal rehearsals, we were asked to go around the table and introduce ourselves. The very first thing I could think of to say was that I love hiking (after saying my name, of course). And it’s true; I feel most like myself when I’m on a trail.

No matter where in the world I am working, I tend to seek out hiking trails. When I was working on a cruise ship in Europe, I would spend hours hiking the Cinque Terre or the hills of Corsica. In my home of New York, I will travel two hours by train to enjoy the trails of the Hudson Valley. Here, in Little Rock, when I told people that I am a hiker, they said make sure you check out Pinnacle Mountain. So that’s what I did.

On our first day off from rehearsal, some fellow cast members and I hiked the east summit of Pinnacle. I fell in love with the views of the valley and the river below. I loved the steep climb over the rocks. I loved the ease of getting to the park. So I vowed to come back. Little did I know that I would be coming back so often.

As we’ve been in previews for Next to Normal, I have continually found myself drawn back to Pinnacle. Something about the greenery reminds me of the Pacific Northwest, where Next to Normal takes place. Hiking is a physical workout that prepares my body and my breath for the stage. It’s also a mental workout that allows me time to reflect on last evening’s performance – things that went well, things that weren’t as clear for me, moments that I’d like to change or try something new.

When I hike, I appreciate the scenery, the warm sun and the crisp air. But I tend to bring my own soundtrack. As I’ve hiked this week, I’ve created a Henry-inspired soundtrack. As you see in the show, Henry is constantly on his iPhone. So as I hike, if I hear a song that reminds me of Henry, I tag it and put it into a playlist.

HENRY’S HIKMIX

  1. “Rio”  – Hey Marseilles
  2. “Paddling Out” – Miike Snow
  3. “Little Talks” – Of Monsters & Men
  4. “Little Secrets” – Passion Pit
  5. “Rome” – Phoenix
  6. “Home” – Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros

These hikes have been one of my favorite parts of working in Little Rock. If you enjoy trailblazing, I invite you to have a hike with Henry and plug these songs into your iPod. Hopefully, it will inspire you to understand Henry a little bit better. And if you have suggestions for other music that reminds you of Henry, leave a comment here. I’m always looking for more musical inspiration.

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 inSeven 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.