Ateneo Blue Repertory gave the media a First Look for Next to Normal, its 28th season finale. It features Cris Villonco as Diana, Jef Flores as Dan, Tim Pavino / Adrian Lindayag alternating for the role of Gabe. Jam Binay and Nikki Bengzon as Natalie, Davy Narciso / Carlos De Guzman plays Henry and Jobim Javier / Jason Tan Liwag as Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine

Next to Normal is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning show by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. Ejay Yatco who is the musical director of the local production confirms that although a lot of people love the show’s music, it is not easy to do because it requires a lot of vocal parts that do not sound very harmonious – kind of similar to what is going on in the minds of the characters.

First Look for Next to Normal written by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt

Cris Villonco sings “I Miss the Mountain”

The show is about a mother with worsening bipolar disorder that affects her family and their relationships with each other. At the press conference, Cris Villonco relates that playing the role of Diana is a dream and chance of a lifetime because she likes playing very complicated people. She was supposed to be out of the country but when she got the opportunity to do the role, she decided to stay.

Nikki Bengzon alternates with Jam Binay as Natalie
Tim Pavino lends his voice to Gabe singing “I’m Alive”.

Tim Pavino confesses that doing this production with students who watch the professionals with adoring eyes is fir him, a great reminder of what he was like dreaming of becoming a performer. He and Adrian may or may not do the shirtless moments done by Aaron Tveit on Broadway or Felix Rivera in Manila.

Jef sings Dan’s song, “It’s Gonna Be Good”.

Speaking of Felix, director Missy Maramara shared that they were thinking of casting Felix Rivera who played Gabe in the original Manila production of Next to Normal but he is already based in Hongkong. Interestingly, Felix is currently in the country because of the Coronavirus situation. However, everything works out because Jef Flores who was initially called in to read for rockstar / Dr. Madden ended up doing the role of Dan because when he auditioned together with Cris, it seemed that the match was meant to be. The role of Dr. Madden went to his friend Jobim Javier who alternates with Jason Tan Liwag.

The cast sings the uplifting song, “Light”

The sampling of the songs ended with a very inspirational number which is a good reminder for everyone no matter what situation you are in:

Day after day, day after day
We’ll find the will to find our way
Knowing that the darkest skies will someday see the sun
When our long night is done
There will be light

When we open up our light
Sons and daughters, husbands, wives
Can fight that fight
There will be light
There will be light
There will be light
There will be light

Next to Normal will run from March 6 to 22, 2020 at the Gonzaga Fine Arts Theatre

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