LOS ANGELES — Actors Deedee Magno-Hall and Isa Camille Briones will play mom and daughter, respectively, in East West Players’ staging of the musical “Next to Normal.”
With music by Tom Kitt and libretto by Brian Yorkey, this Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize profitable musical is about how Diana’s psychological well being circumstances have an effect on her partner Dan and daughter Natalie.
Magno-Hall takes the position of Diana and will act alongside her real-life husband Clifton (who’s of partial Filipino descent), who performs Dan. Both only in the near past concluded the national tour of one other Kitt-Yorkey musical, “If/Then,” starring Idina Menzel.
Other Filipino Americans in the manufacturing embrace actors Anthea Neri (Diana understudy) and Randy Guiaya (Doctor Fine/Madden/Anesthesiologist); and musical director Marc Macalintal.
Runs in the household
Isa Briones is making her East West Players (EWP) debut with the position of Natalie. Her surname might sound acquainted to theater aficionados. Her father, Jon Jon, is at the moment enjoying in a bit of musical on Broadway titled “Miss Saigon” because the Engineer.
He says, “I’m very proud of my daughter and have always been. She’s a wonderful, insanely talented, kind-hearted person and I’m very excited that she’s making her EWP debut. They do great work.”
Jon Jon performed Georges in EWP’s “La Cage Aux Folles” final 12 months reverse Gedde Watanabe as Albin.
“I know it’s important to her that she connects with her Asian roots and be recognized in the Asian theater community,” he provides.
Unfortunately, he received’t have the ability to catch his daughter’s present due to schedule conflicts. “But I’ll be cheering her on, as well as my other friends in the show, from here in New York City. If it’s extended there may be a possibility of my going.”
When she first came upon concerning the auditions, Isa signed up instantly even when she’d simply beforehand performed the identical position for Pico Playhouse Theatre.
“It’s my absolute favorite musical,” she says.
While she was excited to land the position, Briones acquired much more “ecstatic when I realized that Deedee and Clifton would be playing Diana and Dan!”
“I’ve known them since I was little, and I consider them my auntie and uncle so getting to work with them for the first time is a dream come true.”
Briones, whose mom Megan and brother Teo are additionally actors, says it’s surreal to work together with her “auntie” for the primary time.
“We’ve only just started rehearsals but so far it’s been really amazing. We’ve been doing some intense work so far, really digging deep into the play itself and the characters.”
“Diana and Natalie’s relationship is so lovely regardless of the ache and the hardships. It’s actually nearly a daughter needing her mom.
“I can’t wait to discover these primary but highly effective feelings with Deedee. She’s such a proficient and inspiring girl. Getting to play reverse her in such an emotional and intimate piece goes to be an awesome creative journey.”
Mental well being
Magno Hall, who performed Nessarose in the primary national tour of “Wicked” and at the moment voices Pearl in Cartoon Network’s “Steven Universe,” says, “We’ve solely simply begun rehearsals, however I’ve seen Isa play the a part of Natalie and she’s excellent!
“I’ve identified Isa since she was about two years previous, and I’ve watched her develop into an clever, proficient and lovely younger girl, inside and out. I’m such a proud auntie, and I’m thrilled to be enjoying her mom in this present!”
She’s excited to play Diana. “I dwell for roles which might be advanced and removed from (or shut to) my actuality. There is a lot to play with and dive into as an actor. It’s a part of the love of enjoying faux.
“Our great director, Nancy Keystone, has offered us with loads of analysis concerning the medical situation of Diana’s character.”
She’s additionally achieved her personal analysis, interviewing buddies and household which have handled psychological sickness and reminiscence loss.
“That has been helpful in trying to understand in some ways, but of course not completely, the severity of the disease. All I can do is try my best to use what I know and hopefully bring some truth to the character.”
Both Magno-Hall and Briones level out the universality of the musical’s characters and their circumstances. “It can be the story about any family, anywhere in the world, regardless of race,” says Magno-Hall.
“I’m so happy that EWP exists, giving many actors and artists of color an opportunity to play roles they would not usually be considered for. I do hope the entertainment industry in general continues to take more chances with colorblind casting. My friend, Pearl Sun, an actor of Asian descent, played the role of Diana on the national tour, which I thought was pretty cool.”
Briones says that EWP permits audiences to acquire “a different perspective and understanding from an Asian American point of view.”
“Talking about mental illness specifically in the Asian American community is extremely important, too, as it is not talked about enough on a social level and in the home. It is often prevalent in the Asian culture that such things be kept behind closed doors which may prevent people from getting the help they need.”
Directed by Nancy Keystone, set design by Hana Sooyeon, lighting design by Karyn Lawrence, costume design by Lena Sands, sound design by Cricket Meyers. EWP’s creative director is Snehal Desai.
“Next to Normal,” previews begin May 12, runs May 17-June 11 at David Henry Hwang Theater, Union Center of the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles.
Tickets and particulars at Eastwestplayers.org.
READ earlier protection of Deedee Magno Hall right here.
READ earlier interview with Isa Briones right here.
READ earlier protection of Jon Jon Briones right here.
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