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“Next to Normal” Opening in May

Lauren Kennedy, Charlie Pollock and Mike Schwitter lead cast of NC Theatre’s NEXT TO NORMAL opening in May

RALEIGH, N.C.North Carolina Theatre, the region’s premiere nonprofit professional regional theatre producing professional Broadway musical revivals, announces the full cast for its upcoming, Next to Normal, playing May 1 to May 10, 2015 at A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

Lauren Kennedy

Lauren Kennedy

Raleigh’s own Lauren Kennedy will appear in the pivotal role as matriarch “Diana.” Her other Broadway credits include Monty Python’s Spamalot as “Lady of the Lake,” Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close and Side Show as “Daisy Hilton.” She has also appeared on stage in “Cinderella” at the New York City Opera and South Pacific as “Nellie Forbush.” Most recently she appeared with NC Theatre for the 2014 production of Les Misérables as “Fantine,” a role she played on Broadway in 2002/03. She has appeared on the NCT stage many times, including Evita, Annie Get Your Gun and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lauren currently serves as the Artistic Director at Theatre Raleigh.

Charlie Pollock will play the role of “Dan.” Most recently, Charlie was seen in Broadway in Violet, alongside Sutton Foster. Other Broadway credits include 9 to 5 and Urinetown the Musical and off-Broadway in tick, tick…BOOM! Charlie has also appeared in films including, PS I Love You, and on television in “The Good Wife” and “Law & Order.”

Making his NCT debut is Mike Schwitter in the role of “Gabe.” Broadway credits include Pippin as “Lewis,” and the National Tour of The Book of Mormon. Regional credits include Next to Normal as “Gabe,” Jesus Christ Superstar, Love Changes Everything and Chamberlain.

Michael Schwitter

Michael Schwitter

In the role of “Natalie” will be Ravenscroft and NCT Conservatory alum, English Bernhardt, who received rave reviews for her depiction of “Eponine” in NCT’s 2014 production of Les Misérables. This marks her 10th show with NC Theatre. Additional credits include The Little Mermaid, Evita, Hairspray, The Sound of Music and in the title role of Annie in 2010.

In the role of “Henry” will be Ben Fankhauser. After originating the role in the premiere production at Paper Mill Playhouse, Ben made his Broadway debut as newsboy “Davey” in Disney’s Newsies and the first National Tour of Spring Awakening. Rounding out the cast is Charlie Brady as “Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine,” having previously appeared on the NCT stage as “Enjolras” in Les Misérables. Broadway credits include South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theater and off-Broadway in The Burnt Part Boys at Playwrights Horizons/Vineyard Theater.

Next to Normal will be directed by NC Theatre’s Artistic Director, Casey Hushion. In addition to her work with NCT, Casey has worked both on and off Broadway on various productions. She was the Associate Director of Elf in 2010 and 2012 and In The Heights, both on Broadway and the National Tour.

Charlie Pollock

Charlie Pollock

She recently directed the critically acclaimed production of NERDS at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, which is expected to open on Broadway this year. A graduate of New York University, Casey has worked at regional theatres across the country and has also been active in the development of new musicals.

About Next to Normal:

The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Next to Normal is the story of what appears to be a typical American family, yet their lives are anything but normal, as the mother struggles with bipolar disorder. Featuring a powerful and contemporary score by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Next to Normal takes audiences into the minds of each character and presents the family’s story with love, sympathy and heart as the family deals with the unpredictability of their mother’s mental illness. The Broadway production of Next to Normal ran from 2009-2011 and received three Tony Awards including “Best Original Score.”

For tickets to NC Theatre’s production of NEXT TO NORMAL, visit or call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. For groups of 10 or more, call 919-831-6941 x5204. Next up in the 2014/15 season: The Buddy Holly Story, July 21-26, 2015.

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