The New Normal

How does a local independent theater deal with translating a Broadway show to the small stage? When the touring drama Next to Normal came to the Buell Theatre nearly a year ago, it arrived with a state-of-the-art, multimedia set. Ignite Theatre has had to build its production of the groundbreaking musical from the bottom up, with the results on display starting tonight at 7:30 p.m. “It just depends on your vision,” explains director Keith Rabin. “We do have to scale down a little bit. Obviously, the tour was an amazing production, and they had an incredible set design, but I can actually put the characters in a setting that almost looks like a real home.” The story transcends high-tech trappings, he says: “We’re trying to communicate the fact that this is the holiday season, but Next to Normal isn’t your conventional holiday feel-good show.”

He’s right about that — Normal already breaks tradition as a musical by tackling issues of drug abuse and family dysfunction — but Rabin also contends that its message isn’t necessarily negative. “There are a lot of undertones in the show of hope and light and family,” he notes. “And there’s a lot of love in this family, along with distress and trouble and sadness, and that shows through. I think people will walk away with respect for their own families, and that is what’s most real when it comes to feeling the holiday spirit.”

Next to Normal — a meaningful break from the onslaught of generally frivolous Christmas fare — continues at the Aurora Fox, 9900 East Colfax Avenue, through January 6. For tickets, $18 to $25, visit www.ignitetheatre.com or call 720-362-2697.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 29, 2:30 p.m. Starts: Dec. 21. Continues through Jan. 6, 2012

 
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