Next to Normal: Hidden Moments

When you’re watching a show, it is sometimes difficult to see everything that is happening on stage. The blocking or the lighting are designed to focus the audience’s eyes towards certain actors and moments. However, often there are moments happening in background, or off stage, that are just as interesting. I asked my fellow actors to share a few thoughts on their favorite “hidden moments” in Next to Normal:

Will Holly (Gabe) on Kristin Parker (Natalie): “One thing that audience members would be unaware of is how Kristin gets into character. She actually has a little Natalie ‘shrine’ set up underneath the smaller platform on stage left. This includes a photo strip of her as a kid and a ‘Natalie to do list’ with things such as get a boyfriend, find new parents, homework etc. Kristin also exists in this area right before the show starts, working on math problems in her workbook and getting ready for school.” Kristin Parker as Natalie in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Next to Normal.

Deb Lyons (Diana) on Will Holly: “Will’s laugh is one of pure joy. My dressing room is right across from his and when I hear his laugh it fills me with delight! Especially doing a show like this, there can never be too much laughter offstage! There’s a moment at the top of show when Will grabs some dry cereal to eat. Sometimes the cereal ends up in his mouth and sometimes some of it unintentionally ends up on the floor! I can’t focus on it or I’ll start to laugh. But my laughter would never sound as wonderful as Will’s!” Deb Lyons as Diana and Will Holly as Gabe in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Next to Normal.

Mo Brady (Henry) on Deb Lyons: “My character only interacts with Diana for a few moments in the entire show, but one of those moments fuels how I motivate Henry’s passionate dedication to Natalie. In ‘Superboy and the Invisible Girl,’ Diana sings to her daughter, ‘I love you, as much as I can.’ As Deb sings this lyric, she lightly touches her chin, as if she can’t believe the words that just came out of her mouth. As Henry, that simple action makes me realize how desperately Natalie needs his support and understanding, and drives his dedication to be ‘perfect for her.'” Deb Lyons as Diana and Mo Brady as Henry in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Next to Normal.

Peter James Zielinski (Dr. Fine/Dr. Madden) on Mo Brady: “My favorite thing about Mo is the sheer amount of energy he brings to the show….on stage and off. From the laser like precision of the choices he makes in his acting to that extra little hop in his step during set changes or dances. Mo is the caffeine for this cast and it would be a completely different show without him.” Mo Brady as Henry and Kristin Parker as Natalie in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Next to Normal.

Jonathan Rayson (Dan) on Peter James Zielinski: “Y’know, one thing about Peter James Zielinski that may not be immediately apparent in his performance is that he is quite the jokester. One of my favorite moments is when I support Dr. Madden as one of a team of masked surgical technicians. Throughout the scene, we pass around a clipboard, each ‘signing off’ on various parts of the medical procedure. Of course, in typical Pete style, he’s taken to scrawling little messages to us…messages like ‘I love you,’ and ‘I need a nap.’ Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m wearing a surgical mask to hide my huge grin.” Deb Lyons as Diana and Peter James Zielinski as Dr. Fine in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Next to Normal.

Kristin Parker on Jonathan Rayson: “Every time I do a scene with Jonathan it truly feels like the first time, but the moment that gets me the most is at the very end of the show when he finally tackles his grief after 20 years of pushing it down. I¹m waiting in the wings to enter for ‘Light’ during the ‘I Am the One’ reprise. I¹m supposed to becoming from a really magical prom night with Henry; therefore entering in a devastated state would make no sense. It takes every bit of my will power not to lose it watching Jonathan’s work during that song. The raw pain in his voice penetrates right into my gut and when he finally utters ‘Gabe. Gabriel…’ my heart wrenches every single time.” Jonathan Rayson as Dan and Will Holly as Gabe in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Next to Normal.

Next to Normal closes at Arkansas Repertory Theatre on Sunday, May 27, 2012.

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.