Our 540th Production
Directed by Josh Tull
April 19th, 20th, 26th, 27th, 28th; May 3rd, 4th, 5th, 2024
Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
Winner of three Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize in Drama, Next to Normal dives into the inner workings of a suburban family struggling with the effects of mental illness and loss. The father is a working architect; the mother rushes to get kids ready for school, the children are normal teenagers; appearing to be the typical American family. However, behind closed doors, their lives are anything but normal as the mother has been battling bipolar disorder for 16 years.
Next to Normal explores how bipolar disorder impacts family dynamics and makes everyday issues immensely challenging to overcome. The show takes you into the minds and hearts of each character, presenting their family’s story with empathy and care.
Content Warning: Next to Normal contains adult themes and adult language, it is not suitable for young children. Viewer discretion is advised.
Meet the Cast
Casey Bilger as Natalie
Casey is thrilled to be making her Old Academy Players debut in her favorite musical of all time! A Philadelphia native, she recently completed her B.S. in Entertainment and Arts Management at Drexel University (in case anyone is hiring). Recent credits include: The Lightning Thief (Katie Gardner), Songs For A New World (Stars and the Moon/Ensemble), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Diane). Thank you to her friends and family for their unconditional love and support– you are her light in the dark.
Christie Fischer as Diana
Christie is thrilled to be performing in her first show with Old Academy — and her second show after a 10 year hiatus! While the last decade found her performing largely in her car, previous favorite roles include Freaky Friday (Katherine), Urinetown (Little Sally), Anything Goes (Hope), Hay Fever (Myra), The Imaginary Invalid (Toinette) and Oliver (Nancy). Many thanks to Josh and this incredible cast. Biggest love to CJ, Sid, Marigold and Thisbe who are her biggest cheerleaders, favorite huggers and most honest critics of said car performances.
Nic Fallacaro as Gabe
Nic is thrilled to be making his Old Academy Players debut. He is a 4th year student at Drexel University majoring in Finance and he is involved in the theatre program. His recent performances at Drexel include: Songs for a New World performing She Cries & most recently portraying Percy Jackson in The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. He would like to thank his family for their constant love and support.
Ryan Baber as Dr. Madden & Dr. Fine
Ryan is delighted to be returning for his second show with Old Academy Players. Last season, Ryan played Paul in the OAP production of Company. Other recent roles include: Milt Fields in Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Sigurd Torvaldsson in Yo, Vikings!, and Robin Starveling in Something Rotten!, (Players Club of Swarthmore), as well as Mr. Brooke in Little Women (Narberth Community Theatre).
Sean Tyrik as Henry
Sean Tyrik hails from Virginia and is signed to A3 Artist Agency and Brave Artist Management, his career beginning in Musical Theater. His credits include GREASE with Virginia’s Generic Theater, RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEINS CINDERELLA with Virginia’s Generic Theater, and 45 MINUTES FROM BROADWAY with Virginia’s Generic Theater. Sean also recently starred in the upcoming MGM film “THE NICKEL BOYS” directed by Ramell Ross and is excited to be making his debut with Old Academy Players as Henry in Next To Normal.
Tom Stone as Dan
Tom is thrilled at the opportunity to work with Josh Tull, Annie and Steve Hnatko, and his incredibly talented fellow castmates in Next To Normal at Old Academy. He has appeared previously at OAP in a recent production of Company, and has had prominent roles in local productions of Guys And Dolls, Urinetown, and Bright Star.
Josh Tull (Director)
Josh is excited to be returning to Old Academy Players, this time as a Director. Most recently Josh could be seen in OAP’s production of The Broken Hollow Banshee. Previously, Josh was in OAP’s production of Company as Bobby and in The Fantasticks as Matt. Josh holds an M.Ed. in Secondary Education as well as an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies for Stage Direction and Vocal Performance. Outside of OAP Josh serves as the Mainstage Director for Neshaminy Summer Stock where he will be directing Mean Girls in July of this year. Other recent directing credits include Mamma Mia! and The Phantom of the Opera.
Annie Hnatko (Producer)
Annie is rhapsodic about returning to Old Academy Players as a producer. She studied Music Education at West Chester University and Opera Performance at the Academy of Vocal Arts. She has been active in theater, opera, concert singing, directing, and producing for over 30 years. At OAP, Annie has most recently directed Genesisters for the 2023 Summer One-Act Festival, Company, and The Fantasticks, and produced Agnes of God and The Broken Hollow Banshee.
Steve Hnatko (Producer)
Steve is absolutely heaven-sent to be once again working on a production at Old Academy. Steve has produced such OA productions as Godspell, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Fourth Wall, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Ordinary Days, the 2019 Summer One Act Festival, The Fantasticks, Sweat, Company, the 2023 Summer One Act Festival, and The Broken Hollow Banshee. Steve has also produced 42nd Street and Annie for the Philadelphia Recreation Center’s Star Players.
Alyssia Sims (Stage Manager)
Alyssia is proud to be working with Old Academy Players again! She has previously played Lily in Old Academy Player’s production of The Book Club Play. As Co-Director of Northwood Academy Charter School’s The Wiz, Alyssia showcased her directorial skills. Her favorite acting role was as Katisha in The Mikado. She holds a B.A. in Music Performance from Lincoln University and an M.A. in Musical Theater Studies from Temple University. She also trained across the pond at the American College in Dublin, Ireland. She’d like to thank her family, friends, Old Academy Players, and the cast, crew, and director of Next to Normal!
Carla Childs (Set Construction)
Carla, a Distinguished Member, has been active at the Old Academy since 1993, when she brought children to audition for a play and got a part of her own. Directing highlights include Our Town, The Winslow Boy, Driving Miss Daisy, Smash, Charley’s Aunt, To Kill a Mockingbird, Enchanted April, The Miracle Worker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Little Women, The Taming of the Shrew, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Lion in Winter, Twelfth Night, A House with No Walls, A Raisin in the Sun, and Wedding Band. Her most recent onstage appearance was in As It is in Heaven. She directs the Anne Frank Theater Project for the Philadelphia Holocaust Awareness Museum, and directs and costumes student productions at Germantown Friends School.
Cheri Tigh (Music Director)
Cheri Tigh has thoroughly enjoyed her first experience working with Old Academy Players and thanks our Director, Josh Tull, for this wonderful opportunity. Cheri maintains a private vocal studio while also working as Assistant Choral Director and Music Director for the musical at Poquessing Middle School in the Neshaminy School District. She is the Collaborative Accompanist/Asst. Music Director for Neshamiy’s Summerstock Program. Cheri also serves as Music Director at Lutheran Church of God’s Love in Newtown and Assistant Music Director at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Yardley. Thank you to the cast and crew for doing an incredible job on such a challenging yet rewarding show!
Galadriel Sevener (Costumer)
T. Mark Cole (Set & Scenic Designer)
T. Mark Cole is a Pennsylvania based artist known for his traditional landscapes and also works under his abstract art pseudonym, Favi Dubo. He has been a fine arts instructor for over 30 years and spent several summers working for the State of Maine cataloguing historic homes on Mount Desert Island. His passion for architecture led him to co-author two books on the history of Stone Harbor, NJ with Arcadia Publishing. Mark is a member of the Chester County Art Association (CCAA), Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), InLiquid.com and The National Trust. Recent theatrical design work includes set designs for: The Broken Hollow Banshee, Agnes of God, Vernal Rites (World Premiere/Best Set Design Nominee, BroadwayWorld.com), Suddenly Last Summer, A Song I Forgot to Sing (World Premiere / Best Set Design Nominee, BroadwayWorld.com), Lips Together, Teeth Apart, and Buried Child (Best Set Design Nominee, BroadwayWorld.com). Scenic designs include: Next to Normal, Other Desert Cities, The Children’s Hour, The Laramie Project, and The Nutcracker. Mark holds a BFA from West Chester University and has studied Fine Art throughout Europe.