NEXT TO NORMAL

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PANIC! PRODUCTIONS OPENS THEIR 2018 SEASON WITH PULITZER WINNING MUSICAL NEXT TO NORMAL An unflinching look at a suburban family Struggling with the effects of mental illness. Hillcrest Center For The Arts June 2nd- 17th, 2018 LOS ANGELES (April 30, 2018)– Producer Paul Panico along with Panic! Productions is pleased to announce their season opening musical production of 2018, NEXT TO NORMAL, a multi-award and Pulitzer Prize winningmusical by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt. The acclaimed rock musical will open June 2nd, 2018 at Hillcrest Center For The Arts. Tickets & info at: www.panicproductions.org ABOUT THE PRODUCTION Next to Normal explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness. Dad's an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches and pour cereal; their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens, appearing to be a typical American family. And yet their lives are anything but normal because the mother has been battling manic depression for 16 years. Next to Normal takes audiences into the minds and hearts of each character, presenting their family's story with love, sympathy and heart. Next to Normal has been called one of the best musicals of the 21st century and its soundtrack one of the best original soundtracks in a musical due to its graceful handling of its dark, complex subject matter and its moving and brutally honest exploration into pain. It was nominated for eleven 2009 Tony Awards and won three, including Best Musical Score. Next to Normal is winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, becoming the eighth musical in history to receive the honor. In awarding the prize to Kitt and Yorkey, the Pulitzer Board called the show “a powerful rock musical that grapples with mental illness in a suburban family and expands the scope of subject matter for musicals.” Next to Normal was also chosen as “one of the year's ten best shows” by critics around the country, including The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone and The New York Times. The productionis presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com THE TEAM Music by Tom Kitt Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey Directed by Corey Lynn Howe Musical Direction Jan Roper Lighting Designer Shara Abvabi Set Designer Corey Lynn Howe Sound Designer Rick Barton Stage Manager Megan Brister Produced by: Paul Panico and Panic! Productions Publicity by Sandra Kuker PR THE TALENTED CAST INCLUDES Michelle Lane “Diana” Brent Ramirez “Dan” Julia Lester “Natalie” Renee Cohen “Dr. Fine / Madden” Landen Starkman “Gabe” ​Daniel Bellusci “Henry” PERFORMANCE DETAILS AND TICKETS NEXT TO NORMAL is set to open June 2nd– June 17th, 2018, at Hillcrest Center For The Arts, located at 403 West Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA. 91360. Performances after opening will be Thursday and Friday 8PM, Saturday 2PM & 8PM, and Sunday 2PM. There will be one preview June 1 @ 8PM. General admission $28.00 / Students & Seniors $22.00 Running time: 135 minutes VIP Experience tickets $40.00 (2nd& 3rdrow seating and include early seating & swag bag). Tickets available online at: www.hillcrestarts.com Additional information about the production: www.panicproductions.org. ### BIO'S MICHELLE LANE – “Diana” Michelle Lane is thrilled to have the opportunity to reprise a role that is incredibly dear to her. She is an Ovation Award Winner for the West Coast Premiere of Swing! She has lived and worked on both coasts and many cities in between. BROADWAY/VEGAS: Avenue Q. Select REGIONAL: Finding Nemo the Musical (Original Dory), Mary Poppins (Mrs. Banks), In The Next Room (Annie), Chess (Florence), Side Show (Violet), She Loves Me (Amalia), Little Mermaid (Ursula), Measure for Measure (Isabella) to name a few. Recent TV/FILM: "Getaway" (Coming soon), "Married With Secrets" (2016). Best role to date: Mama to Noah & Elouise. Michelle coaches voice and acting privately. For info on voice lessons & coachings, go to www.WorkshopLane.com To learn more, please visit: www.Michelle-Lane.com BRENT RAMIREZ – “Dan” Brent is very excited to be a playing the role of Dan in this production of Next to Normal. Brent was most recently seen after years of not performing in the extremely well received and extended production of All Shook Up as Chad. While not performing, Brent is a father to two amazing toddlers (Chaisson and Phoenix) and is a Performance and Voice Coach at his very own Musical Theatre studio for young performers called Born to Perform Studio out here in Thousand Oaks. He'd like to thank his parents for watching his boys while at rehearsals, his friends and colleagues at Born to Perform Studio for filling in while he plays, and all of his friends and family for their love and support. Enjoy the show!! JULIA LESTER – “Natalie” Julia is thrilled to be playing Natalie, one of her dream roles. She is ecstatic to be a part of telling such an important story. Julia recurs as Emily on CBS's "Mom", and as Ingrid on go90.com's "Mr. Student Body President". Guest star roles on Nickelodeon include Smith on "The Thundermans", and Gracie on "Bella and the Bulldogs". Favorite theatre credits include Carrie in "Carrie: The Musical" (NYA winner for outstanding female lead), Janet in "The Drowsy Chaperone", and Eponine in "Les Miserables". She is currently playing Little Red Ridinghood in Cupcake Studios' production of "Into the Woods". RENEE COHEN – “Dr. Fine” / “Madden” Renee Cohen is thrilled to be making her Panic! Productions debut! Credits include The Marvelous Wonderettes (Suzy Simpson), High Fidelity (Laura), I'm Just Wild About Harry (Ida), Nosferatu (Woman 3), The Wild Party (Queenie, Kate, Mad True u/s), Nunsense (Sister Hubert), American Idiot (Whatsername), JCS (Mary Madgalene), Shrek the Musical (Dragon), I Love You, You're Perfect , Now Change (Woman 2), Cabaret (Emcee), Pippin (Leading Player), Hedwig and The Angry Inch (Yitzhak), Les Miserables (Eponine), and Children of Eden ( Eve/Mama Noah). TV/Film credits include Freaks and Geeks, The Nanny and the voice of Maleficent in the deleted scenes of the re-release of Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition. www.youtube.com/reneesings21. LANDEN STARKMAN – “Gabe” Landen Starkman is 20 years old and a native of Calabasas, CA. He is a graduate of Calabasas High School and while he is on stage performing he is attending Berklee School of Music online for a degree in Music Business. His recent professional credits include 3D Theatrical's Young Frankenstein, 5-Star Theatrical's production of Peter Pan and most recently The Bully Problem for the Stephen Schwartz ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop. Landen grew up singing and dancing at his family's dance studio in Northern, CA. His childhood credits include So You Think You Can Dance as a featured performer with The Rage Boyz Crew and singing background vocal for the Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium album. JAN ROPER – Musical Director Janbrings more than 30 years of experience in Los Angeles as a music director, pianist, singer and composer. Her music directing career launched with the full-scale production of her own original rock opera, Jerusalem A.D. (2002-2006, and again in March of 2018). Jan composed and music directed a one-woman show on the Broadway career of Lane Bradbury (the original Dainty Rose in Gypsy) which they performed in both L.A. and NYC. Another original work, City of Light, was chosen for the ASCAP Stephen Schwartz workshop in 2015 and the sheNYC Festival in 2017, where she had 3 sold out performances with an amazing NY cast and Tony-nominated director (Cady Huffman). In the last year, Jan has music directed for Open Fist Theatre (deLEARious), Music Theatre Guild (Sugar), Calabasas High School (Bat Boy, Hunchback of Notre Dame), and 3 short musicals for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. She is also the Director of Worship at Church for the Nations in Glendale. COREY LYNN HOWE - Director Corey is an LA native, and a long-time participant in all things local LA theatre. As a director, she has enjoyed developing a variety of shows; everything from short plays to musicals …and always with a deliberate nod to the humor and purity inherent in each character and relationship, staying true to the text while acknowledging the uniqueness of the whole story's journey. Notable endeavors include an apprenticeship for Narnia: A Radio Play (SCLT), an inaugural and pivotal foray into musical theatre with [Title of Show] (Village Idiom Productions), a cabaret concert with LA's A Little New Music, developing new works at the Hollywood Fringe Festival with Best of Albuquerque Fringe 2025, and this most current exploration of the human experience with Next to Normal. Corey was not allowed to sit near open windows in school, as they were sure to elicit the wilds of her imagination to come out and play. That never changed. From those elaborate daydreams-through-windows to where stories come to life on stage, Corey's focus is centered on the wonders of the internal and external experiences we all share and bringing them to life for the characters as well as the audience. KYMBERLI MCKANNA – Casting Director Kymberli has worked with Telsey + Company, Lisa Fields Casting, Joy Dewing Casting, Wojcik | Seay Casting, and Tara Rubin Casting as a Casting Assistant & PA on projects like Hamilton, Rock of Ages, Waitress, the live NBC/FOX musicals and many more. Her solo casting credits include Celebrity Cruises, short films When I'm Gone, The Blind, This Just In(webseries) and new media campaigns for Aetho, WearPact.com and Alameda Health Systems. She is also a producer, hair & makeup artist and occasional performer. www.KymberliMcKanna.com PANIC! PRODUCTIONS Panic! Productions is a nonprofit community theatre troupe committed to presenting professional-level productions of musical and plays for the enrichment of its participants and the community. We strive to present theatre that challenges expectations, offering actors and other theatre artists, both amateur and professional, the opportunity to take part in shows beyond the limits often found in a community theatre setting. Presenting less-often produced works as well as new interpretations of familiar works, Panic! hopes to enhance the theatre going experience while educating and, most of all, entertaining its audiences. Founded in 2011, by Paul Panicoand Robert Weibezahl, with a critically acclaimed production of Working: The Musical, Panic! now presents a full season of musical, plays and concert performances. www.panicproductions.org

Reviews

Joy Michelle
"As Director Kirsten Chandler said, "Inspecting Carol isn't really about a play gone wrong; it more about a group of thespians so muddled, it will be a miracle if they even get to the play itself." And what a group of thespians as performed by this fabulously hilarious cast headlined by Grease's Barry Pearl....The show is funny and riddled with sight gags, theatre jokes, and irreverent jokes where nothing is sacred. Jokes are made at the expense of Lithuanians, African-Americans, Mexicans, Liberace, Jeff Sessions, sciatic nerve disorders, panic attacks, poverty, womanizing and the list goes on."

sweet - Joy Austin - The Joyous Living - ...read full review


Avatar
"This ambitions production from Panic Productions is an emotional roller coaster ride from start to finish with beautiful and touching songs. It is gritty, real and complex. Well-directed by Corey Lynn Howe, Next to Normal is profound, heartbreaking, haunting and powerful."

sweet - Harrison Held - The Los Angeles Beat - ...read full review


Avatar
"Granted, it's not a “feel-good” musical in the traditional stance. But it's bold enough to be presented in an informative yet entertaining stage technique. In spite of this dare, the method works out!"

sweet - Rich Borowy - Accessibly Live Offline - ...read full review


Avatar
"Without the actors voices depth and truth these songs would have much less meaning. This cast pays full homage to the brilliance of the words and the heartache of the music... I cannot recommend this production of Next to Normal highly enough. It really is a joy, all be it a sorrowful one. It's a terribly short run, so please make an effort and get out and see this show…"

sweet - Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros - NoHo Arts District - ...read full review


Avatar
"Imagine a play with a multitude of such revelations and you can understand why you might want to cuddle up to a pint of ice cream after seeing the show. And yet you will root for Diana and her family, and somehow feel uplifted with them by play's end."

sweet - Emily Dodi - VC Reporter - ...read full review


Avatar
"If you have yet to see Next to Normal in person, this is your perfect opportunity! Playing for three weekends through the 17th of June, Panic! Productions' Next to Normal is all things spectacular and feeling. Unfortunately the strong language (countless F words and several uses of the Lord's name in vain) and subject matter makes this a questionable choice for a family day out but teens and adults will doubtlessly find the show riveting from start to finish. And huge props to Jan Roper and the minimal band (off stage) for pumping live music into the theatre."

sweet - Joy - The Joyous Living - ...read full review


Joy Michelle
"As Director Kirsten Chandler said, "Inspecting Carol isn't really about a play gone wrong; it more about a group of thespians so muddled, it will be a miracle if they even get to the play itself." And what a group of thespians as performed by this fabulously hilarious cast headlined by Grease's Barry Pearl....The show is funny and riddled with sight gags, theatre jokes, and irreverent jokes where nothing is sacred. Jokes are made at the expense of Lithuanians, African-Americans, Mexicans, Liberace, Jeff Sessions, sciatic nerve disorders, panic attacks, poverty, womanizing and the list goes on."

sweet - Joy Austin - The Joyous Living - ...read full review


Avatar
"This ambitions production from Panic Productions is an emotional roller coaster ride from start to finish with beautiful and touching songs. It is gritty, real and complex. Well-directed by Corey Lynn Howe, Next to Normal is profound, heartbreaking, haunting and powerful."

sweet - Harrison Held - The Los Angeles Beat - ...read full review


Avatar
"Granted, it's not a “feel-good” musical in the traditional stance. But it's bold enough to be presented in an informative yet entertaining stage technique. In spite of this dare, the method works out!"

sweet - Rich Borowy - Accessibly Live Offline - ...read full review


Avatar
"Without the actors voices depth and truth these songs would have much less meaning. This cast pays full homage to the brilliance of the words and the heartache of the music... I cannot recommend this production of Next to Normal highly enough. It really is a joy, all be it a sorrowful one. It's a terribly short run, so please make an effort and get out and see this show…"

sweet - Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros - NoHo Arts District - ...read full review


Avatar
"Imagine a play with a multitude of such revelations and you can understand why you might want to cuddle up to a pint of ice cream after seeing the show. And yet you will root for Diana and her family, and somehow feel uplifted with them by play's end."

sweet - Emily Dodi - VC Reporter - ...read full review


Avatar
"If you have yet to see Next to Normal in person, this is your perfect opportunity! Playing for three weekends through the 17th of June, Panic! Productions' Next to Normal is all things spectacular and feeling. Unfortunately the strong language (countless F words and several uses of the Lord's name in vain) and subject matter makes this a questionable choice for a family day out but teens and adults will doubtlessly find the show riveting from start to finish. And huge props to Jan Roper and the minimal band (off stage) for pumping live music into the theatre."

sweet - Joy - The Joyous Living - ...read full review