Quintessence of Dust Theatre Company/Rachel Kunstadt presented a one-night-only benefit staged reading of the Pulitzer Prize winning musical NEXT TO NORMAL on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at JCC Manhattan, (366 Amsterdam Avenue).
NEXT TO NORMAL, with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness. Winner of three 2009 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Score and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, NEXT TO NORMAL is an emotional powerhouse that addresses such issues as grieving a loss, ethics in modern psychiatry, and suburban life.
Helmed by Daniella Caggiano and featuring music direction by Charlie Alterman from the 2009 Broadway production, 100% of the proceeds from the evening’s performance are earmarked for The JED Foundation. Scroll down for coverage of the night including a special guest, NEXT TO NORMAL’s composer Tom Kitt.
Tony Award nominee Christiane Noll (Ragtime), who won a 2017 Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a musical for her role as Diana at TheaterWorks, was on hand to share her brilliant performance with a Manhattan audience. Her stellar cast mates included Broadway veteran Darius de Haas (Shuffle Along) as Dan, Krystina Alabado (The Mad Ones) as Natalie, Devin Ilaw (Miss Saigon) as Gabe, F. Michael Haynie (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Henry, and Colin Hanlon (In Transit, Falsettos, “Modern Family”) as The Doctors.
The band included Conductor Charlie Alterman on the keys, Emily Chiu (violin), Jennifer Shaw (cello), Mike Rosengarten (guitar), Mary Ann McSweeney (bass) and Spencer Inch (drums).
Inspired by the Hamlet quote, Quintessence of Dust produces theatrical creations that ask challenging questions, inspire exploration and passion, expose and explore the taboo, and give voice to the underrepresented.
The JED Foundation is a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. They’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programs and systems. They’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. They’re encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health.
More information on Quintessence of Dust can be found at www.qodtheatre.org.
More information on The JED Foundation can be found at www.jedfoundation.org.
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Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.