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In “Next to Normal” at NCT, Lauren Kennedy Plays a Mother Struggling with Bipolar Disorder

"Next to Normal" stars Lauren Kennedy (left) and English Bernhardt (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

“Next to Normal” stars Lauren Kennedy (left) and English Bernhardt (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

The North Carolina Theatre will present Next to Normal, a 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical with a 2009 Tony Award ®-winning score by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, on in May 1-3 and 5-10 in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh, NC. NCT’s latest gala revival of a recent Broadway musical will star Lauren Kennedy as Diana Goodman, a suburban mother struggling with bipolar disorder.

According to the North Carolina Theatre:

“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. She has appeared on the North Carolina Theatre stage many times, most recently in the 2014 production of Les Misérables as Fantine, revisiting her Broadway role from 2002-03. Other NCT credits include 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 at Premier Theatre, Jesus Christ Superstar, Love Changes Everything and Chamberlain.

“In the role of Natalie will be Ravenscroft and North Carolina Theatre 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 the North Carolina 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 appeared in the first National Tour of Spring Awakening.

“Rounding out the cast is Charlie Brady as Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine, having last appeared on the NCT stage as Enjolras in Les Misérables. Broadway credits include South Pacific at Lincoln Center and Off-Broadway in The Burnt Part Boys at Playwrights Horizons/Vineyard Theater.

Next to Normal will be directed by the North Carolina 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.

“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 theaters across the country and has also been active in the development of new musicals.”

The stellar cast for the North Carolina Theatre's production of "Next to Normal" includes (from left) Mike Schwitter, Lauren Kennedy, Charlie Pollock (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

The stellar cast for the North Carolina Theatre‘s production of “Next to Normal” includes (from left) Mike Schwitter, Lauren Kennedy, Charlie Pollock (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

SECOND OPINION: April 28th Raleigh, NC WNCN interview with Lauren Kennedy, conducted by Valonda Calloway for “My Carolina Today”: and Kennedy performing “” on “My Carolina Today”; and April 27th Raleigh, NC Arts Now interview with Lauren Kennedy, conducted by Beth Mandel: ,, and April 27th article about Next to Normal post-show conversations by Mike Williams:, April 24th guest blog by NCT president and CEO Lisa Grele Barrie:

The North Carolina Theatre presents NEXT TO NORMAL at 7:30 p.m. May 1, 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 2 and 3, 7:30 p.m. May 5-8, 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 9 and 10 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $29.20-$75.20 (including fees).


NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949;; or

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PRESENTER:,,,, and

2015 SEASON:

NCT BLOG (Stage Notes):




NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, May 9th, performance.


Next to Normal (2008 Off-Broadway and 2009 Broadway musical): (official website), (Music Theatre International), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Tom Kitt (music): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics): (Internet Broadway Database) and (Wikipedia).

Casey Hushion (NCT artistic director): () and (NCT bio).

Lauren Kennedy (actress): (official website), (Facebook page), and (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

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