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Next to Normal

Next to Normal is a 2008 American rock musical with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt. The story centers on a mother who struggles with worsening bipolar disorder and the effects that managing her illness has on her family. 


Next to Normal is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

Thank you to UMass MIND and Open Sky Community Services for expanding our reach and helping us increase awareness of mental health illness in the Worcester community. Please see our online expanded Playbill for education, local resources, and useful questions and activities to engage family, friends, and loved ones in the conversation.

Photos: Amy Mae Photography

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Barbara Kessler

Singer/songwriter Barbara Kessler toured for over a decade, winning a Boston Music Award, the Telluride Troubadour contest, Kerrville New Folk and sharing the stage with many of her idols including the Indigo Girls and Shawn Colvin. Barbara then “retired” to raise her daughters and write and produce songs for TV shows as well as Sony PlayStation. In 2008 Barbara rekindled her love for performing and reinvented herself as an actor in roles such as Sandra (Big Fish), Ginnie (Admissions), Miep (Diary of Anne Frank), Marlene Dietrich (USO Show Tribute) among others. She is delighted to join this incredible cast and crew to bring this moving story to life.
BK adds: Love to Philip for always being my biggest fan as well as my partner on this artistic journey.

Brandon Lee

Brandon is thrilled to be joining STW for the first time with this bucket list show! He recently moved back to the Boston area after almost five years in the Berkshires. Recent favorite credits include: Godspell, Tarzan (Berkshire Theatre Group), Romeo & Juliet (Bay Colony Shakespeare Company), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park), Indelible, Family Game Night (Silverthorne Theater Company), Lucky Stiff (Theater Barn), This Is A Robbery (Netflix). Recent training: Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. Love to LO.

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Cassie Donegan

Cassie is thrilled to be a part of this incredible piece of art! Selected professional theatre credits include: 9 to 5 (Doralee Rhodes); Legally Blonde (Elle Woods); Joseph...Dreamcoat (Narrator); Carrie (Carrie White); Mamma Mia (Sophie); Smoke: Ballad of the Night Riders (Callie Hartley); Tarzan  (Jane Porter); The Addams Family (Wednesday Addams);  Hairspray  (Penny);  Annie  (Lily St. Regis). Most recently, she originated the role of Abigail in the new musical Sticks and Stones alongside Audra McDonald and Joshua Colley. Cassie can also be seen on television screens across networks such as CBN, Discovery, The CW, and Amazon Prime. When not onstage, Cassie can be found serving as the founder and primary instructor for Cassie Donegan Coaching as well as a guest instructor, director, choreographer, and music director for multiple performing arts schools and regional theatre companies alike. Huge thanks to her family, Scott Logsdon, Jo Lynn Burks, Jill Linn Smith, Drew and Joy Linn, Kay Sykes, Judith Coffman, Rosemary Allmann, and the NTN cast and crew! Psalm 20:7

Cristiano Lourenço, Jr. 

Although new to STW, Regina is no stranger to local stages, having performed as Mrs. Tottendale in The Drowsy Chaperone with Worcester County Light Opera, Eulalie Shinn in The Music Man with Vanilla Box Productions, Sister Robert Ann in Nunsense with Stageloft Theater, and one of her favorite roles as Louise in Always, Patsy Cline with her best friend Trish Aponte at Theatre at the Mount! She’s happy to be sharing the stage again with Trish, under the direction of Michael Walker!

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Michael Skrzek 

Michael could not be more excited to work with Studio Theatre Worcester on this timely and important show. As a Worcester native, Michael is ecstatic that the local theatre scene is on the rise, and is proud to have been a big part of it. Next to Normal will mark his 5th post-pandemic production in the city, having appeared in Fun Home (WCLOC), A Christmas Carol (Hanover Theatre), Admissions (WCLOC), and Julius Caesar (THT Rep). Pre-pandemic, Michael enjoyed performing with Disney and Norwegian cruise lines, as well as numerous regional productions including Swan Lake in Blue (Greater Boston Stage Co), Singin’ in the Rain (Theatre By the Sea), Oklahoma! (Candlelight Pavilion), and Mary Poppins (The Grove Theatre), the latter of which won him the 2016 Los Angeles Scenie Award for Breakthrough Star of the Year. Much love to his family and the local theatre community who have had his back through these crazy times. Shout out to the Glazy Susan gang, and cheers to 300 years of Worcester!

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Ben Huu
Dr. Fine / Dr. Madden

Ben will be diving headfirst into his first production since his last performance (about a million years ago) as Mark Cohen in the UMass Lowell Off-Broadway Players’ production of Rent.  After having spent the last few years avoiding the plague, Ben has decided to once again set forth and rekindle the thespian flame within him and join the wonderful cast and crew of Studio Theatre Worcester. So come on and grab a beer, wine, juice box, or a cool glass of refreshing water and sit by the fire! He wholeheartedly hopes that you join us as we regale, for you, the beautiful story of Next to Normal. 

Production Team

Produced and Directed by John Wayland Somers

Music Direction by Kris Layton

Stage Managed by Anna Levin

Technical Design by David N. Farreh

Costume Design by Valerie Schillawski

Dramaturg - Michael Walker

Assistant Stage Manager/PA - Jodi Schoolcraft

Meet the Cast


"...'Next to Normal' is intense, visceral musical entertainment that succeeds in engaging, enlightening, entertaining and informing all who are fortunate enough to attend." 


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