Struggles with mental illness are play’s focus

Opening at Mixed Blood Theatre’s 37th season is the winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama, Next to Normal, […]

Opening at Mixed Blood Theatre’s 37th season is the winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama, Next to Normal, a breathtaking production that reveals one family’s struggle with mental illness. Artistic Director Jack Reuler directs the musical, which opened Oct. 5 and runs through Nov. 11 at Mixed Blood’s historic firehouse theatre on the West Bank, 1501 S. Fourth St., Mpls.

Next to Normal tells the story of Diana Goodman, a mother battling bipolar disorder, and the effect the illness has on her family. Her kaleidoscope of feelings—anger, yearning, sorrow, loss and guilt—coexist in every note in this contemporary musical of muscular grace and operatic force. Unflinchingly honest yet still hopeful, Next to Normal is a feel-everything musical that packs a seismic emotional punch with the electric momentum of a heavy metal concert, the lyricism of a music box and the twanging heartbreak of a country ballad.

“In my pursuit of the best plays in the land that highlight the intersection of disability, theatre, class and race, I have sought permission to produce Next to Normal since 2008. As the script evolved from New York City’s Second Stage to D.C.’s Arena Stage to Broadway, my enthusiasm for this musical as a voice for the unheard millions who have or are influenced by mental illness has magnified. Great theatre that can be a vehicle for rtistry, entertainment, education and affecting change in attitude, behavior and policy is a rarity. Next To Normal is one of those uncommon jewels,” said Reuler.

Performances are Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with 3 p.m. matinees on Sundays. “Radical Hospitality, now firmly in the company’s DNA, returns for a second year,” said Reuler. Radical Hospitality, Mixed Blood’s Transportation Fund allows for anyone with a disability to receive free taxi service to and from the theatre via Red & White Cab. Those interested should contact the Mixed Blood Box Office at 612.338.6131 to utilize the service.

Access Night, with ASL interpreting, audio description and captioning for the hearing impaired, is 7:30 p.m. Sat, Oct. 20. All performances will be captioned in English with projected supertitles. An Industry Night, with an insider talk-back following the show, is 7:30 p.m. Mon, Nov. 5.  Radical Hospitality offers admission at no-cost, by registering in the lobby prior to the show, or paying $20 online at www.mixedblood.com or calling 612-338-6131.