Ellis Gage known for his work on the USA stage (“James & the Giant Peach,” “Dani Girl,” “Far From Canterbury”) will be playing the role of Gabe in the Taiwan premiere of the 2009 hit Broadway musical “Next To Normal” by Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey.
Gage recently won the hearts of Filipinos via the YouTube BL series “Stay” opposite Sebastian Castro. In “Next to Normal”, he plays Gabriel Goodman, the superboy and immortal as perceived by his bipolar mother Diana, played by Taiwan native Ya Han Chang (“Sayonara,” “The Subtle Body,” “Eastbound”).
in an email interview with PalabasTayo, Gage feels incredibly lucky to be bringing this show to Taiwan for the first time and to be doing it under the direction of Carolyn Sun (who also directed Taiwan’s renowned, long-running production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect… Now Change”). He says, “Working with Carolyn is such a gift. She holds her vision and leads with collaboration beautifully, creating a sensitive room in which everyone is aware of how every choice affects the world being created. This production will be unique (it’s NOT a replica of the 2009 American version) but aims to deliver the heart of its deservedly successful and beloved American counterpart”.
Talking about his role in the award-winning musical, Gage says, “I’ve seen Gabe in some productions played as a sort of supervillain; a sinister, conniving, malignant presence who deceitfully charms his way into Diana’s heart, implied to be the personification of her diagnoses”. He adds, “There is a lot of integrity in this direction as he is, in fact, a delusion that plagues her with self-destructive behavior… the audience should not be rooting for him. However, Carolyn and I have been working to distance his portrayal from anything antagonistic and lean into the neutrality, innocence, and vulnerability of a typical high school senior with no agenda other than being a decent son and holding onto the only family he has left – he’s been disregarded by his father and sister, and needs to fight to not lose his mom. Depicting him as Diana sees him (with no malice, demanding no more than what he thinks is the bare minimum – to be acknowledged by and not torn away from his family) allows audiences to experience her condition as it is; tragically random and unfair with no one to be blamed. Her disorder is present enough in the text without Gabe representing it. I haven’t seen any need to color in what’s outlined for the audience to color in themselves. Allowing Gabe to just be a mediocre kid with good intentions and humble needs lets Diana’s mental illness remain less identifiable and hauntingly nebulous, which we are hoping will pack the most punch”.
Gage believes that “Next to Normal” is incredibly important for its place in the musical theatre canon and for what it imparts to anyone who gets to see it. He says, “It is a prime example of a show that utilizes its medium to tell its story to the fullest, employing a stunning yet digestible experience that effectively imparts a profound, valuable story about health, family, agency, growth, gray area, dialectics, and supporting the people we love (including ourselves). It’s a strong enough piece to transcend American culture which is why I’m so excited to take part in sharing this with Taiwan”.
The rest of the principal cast will include local radio & television personality Francis Chia as Doctor Madden and Doctor Fine as well as Taiwan actors Chi (Taiwan’s “I Love You, You’re Perfect… Now Change,” “Shemenayha!”) returning to the role of Natalie, having originated the part in the China premiere in Beijing (in Mandarin), ERay Chiang (Taiwan’s “April Rain,” “The Fantasticks,” “I Love You, You’re Perfect…”) as Dan, and Sassoon Yang (Taiwan’s “The Fantasticks”) as Henry.
Next to Normal will come to Taiwan for the first time ever at the National Taichung Theater in association with Activa Productions, Wuming Chen, and Hsiaoli Wu. The official press opening will be July 22nd and the production is currently slated to run through July 30th. Tickets can be purchased on the National Taichung Theater’s website linked below.
English version: https://www.npac-ntt.org/en/program/events/c-ESzhIUVo1Ye