Returning home for its first local Seattle production, the Tony Award-winning rock musical Next to Normal will be co-produced in February 2013 by award-winning companies Balagan Theatre and Contemporary Classics. Starring in the pivotal leading role will be one of Seattle's most regarded actors, Marya Sea Kaminski, in her first musical.
The cast also features Keaton Whittaker, Auston James, Kody Bringman, Ryan McCabe, and Ryan Hotes. Contemporary Classics artistic director Brandon Ivie will direct, with music direction by R.J. Tancioco.
A truly original musical by Tom Kitt and Issaquah native Brian Yorkey, the show ran on Broadway for almost two years; won three Tony Awards, including Best Score and Best Leading Actress; and became the eighth musical in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Playing the central role of bipolar delusional matriarch Diana Goodman is Marya Sea Kaminski in the first musical role of her career. One of Seattle's most lauded actors, Kaminski has received a Stranger Genius Award, two Seattle Times Footlight Awards, a Gregory Award, and has been named "Artist of the Year" by Seattle magazine, as well as "Best Local Stage Actor" and "Best Performing Artist" by the readers of the Seattle Weekly.
Known for her work in hard-hitting powerful roles, Kaminski has been seen as Hedda Gabler (both in Intiman's recent Hedda Gabler and Washington Ensemble Theatre's blahblahblahBANG!); the title role in Seattle Shakespeare Company's production of Electra; and the American premiere of My Name is Rachel Corrie at Seattle Repertory Theatre. She has created more than 20 solo shows and has performed her original work at Bumbershoot and On the Boards in Seattle; PS 122 in New York; the Myrna Loy Center in Helena; the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland; and most recently at the Richard Hugo House with Riddled. She is also a founding artistic director of Washington Ensemble Theatre.
On the role of Diana Goodman, Kaminski says, "When I first saw Next to Normal my heart leaned forward toward the role of Diana Goodman - to her pain, her humor, her formidable strength of character - and I've long been an admirer of Brandon Ivie's directorial work, so the opportunity to collaborate with him on this incredible story seems like a perfect storm. Working on a musical theater role of this magnitude will be both a refreshing departure and a welcome challenge for me. I cannot wait to step inside this world and live inside those songs."
As Diana's troubled daughter Natalie, Keaton Whittaker makes her return to the Seattle stage after spending almost two years on Broadway in the Trevor Nunn-directed, Tony Award-winning revival of A Little Night Music starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. A 16-year old dynamo, she was discovered at age 10 by The 5th Avenue Theatre in their first production of White Christmas and has since had such local credits as Shrek, Sunday in the Park with George and Whistle Down the Wind (5th Avenue Theatre), and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird (Intiman Theatre).
Playing opposite Ms. Kaminski as her supportive husband Dan is longtime Seattle actor and Footlight Award winner Auston James. James gave a thrilling performance in last summer's developmental production of the psychological thriller Cloaked (Village Theatre) and has performed at almost every professional theatre in Seattle, including Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT, Seattle Opera, and Seattle Children's Theatre.
Playing Diana's sterling son is rising Seattle star Kody Bringman. At age 22, Bringman is currently starring in another rock musical as the title character in the Northwest premiere of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (ArtsWest Playhouse). Other credits include Balagan Theatre's Spring Awakening, Seattle Musical Theatre's Hairspray and Village Theatre's recent The Toymaker.
Rounding out the cast as a myriad of Diana's doctors is familiar face Ryan McCabe, whose credits include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (ArtsWest), Chicago (Seattle Musical Theatre), and several of Contemporary Classics' New Voices concerts; as well as 17-year-old Newport High School senior Ryan Hotes, making his professional debut as Natalie's boyfriend Henry.