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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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd