Jakarta Youth for Performing Arts in 'Still Life: The Story of Van Gogh' in July. (Photo courtesy of @jaksical on Instagram)

Next to Normal: Musical Tells Story of Mental Illness in Families

BY : NUR YASMIN

AUGUST 20, 2019

Jakarta. The Jakarta Youth for Performing Arts will perform the award-winning mental health-themed musical "Next to Normal" at Usmar Ismail Hall in South Jakarta on Tuesday.

The musical investigates the sensitive issue of mental illness in families and society portrayed through the life of the Goodman family.

The mother, Diana Goodman, suffers from bipolar disorder. Despite her condition, she has to take care of her depressed husband, her picture-perfect son and her attention-seeking daughter.

"The story is very important for young people now. Mental illness is still stigmatized and rarely talked about openly," Kyla Christie, JYPA founder and Next to Normal director, said on Tuesday.

Kyla had won awards in the World Championship for Performing Arts in Long Beach, California, including a gold medal for Solo Vocal Broadway. She said directing Next to Normal is her contribution to break the stigma against mental illness in Indonesia.

The musical will attempt to show an accurate portrayal of the day-to-day life of people with mental illness. 

It will feature music by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, with special arrangements by the Music Theater International.

Co-director Aisya Nabila said the company has taken every precaution to make sure the topic of mental health is portrayed with sensitivity in the musical. 

"It's a serious topic, our team has to be extra sensitive, but it is also important that we face it head on," Aisya said.

The original musical has won three Tony Awards and had a run in Broadway. In Asia, it has been performed in Japan, Singapore and Indonesia.

The theater company is collaborating with Into the Light, a local organization focusing on mental health and suicide prevention.

According to the World Health Organization, Indonesia has the eighth-highest suicide rate in the world in 2016, with 10,000 people taking their own lives that year.

The JYPA has held four successful productions in the past, including Mismatched (2017), Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018), Black Comedy (2018) and Still Life (2019). 

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