‘Next to Normal’ helps normalize mental illness

CAPA is bringing mental illness into the light with their production of “Next to Normal.” The Tony Award-winning musical follows a mother with worsening bipolar disorder and the effects it has both on her and her family.

Thomas Hadzeriga, a musical theatre acting and directing major, plays the part of Henry. While he said he is detached during the rehearsal process to focus on learning his lines, he lives for the stage.

“When I am on stage I am living in the moment with my fellow actors,” Hadzeriga said. “I’m looking forward to sharing this story with everyone and am thrilled to be standing by such wonderfully talented people.”

He wants those attending to understand the meaning of caring for their loved ones.

“Never search for something to fix about a person you love,” Hadzeriga said. “Accept their faults and work to love them and cherish them.”

Since the production is taking place in Theatre West, the whole audience will practically have a front row seat. The intimacy of the show will make the subject matter more personal for the audience.

Gabrielle D’Antoni, a junior liberal arts and education joint major, thinks the musical is appropriate for the college atmosphere.

“I love that they are showcasing the hardships of mental illness,” D’Antoni said. “I think a lot of students struggle in silence with it themselves, so seeing it on stage might normalize it for them.”

Alexis Balbuena, a freshman Scholars’ student on the pre-med track, has only heard of the show through friends but is excited to see it live.

“I’m looking forward to how all the characters are portrayed and the music,” Balbuena said. “I’ve never seen this musical so I have high hopes!”

The musical runs Feb. 15-19 and Feb. 21-24 in Theatre West. It will start at 7:30 p.m. every day except for a Feb. 19 matinée showing at 2 p.m. NSU, BPCC@NSU and LSMSA students do not have to pay for admission, but must make reservations by calling 318-357-4483.

Christina Arrechavala

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