Dynamic Duo in “Next to Normal”

Diving in Heart First

Interview and article by: Taylor Nefcy

Next To Normal: an increasingly popular rock musical that was nominated for eleven Tony Awards back in 2009. It depicts certain hardships within a family, illustrating their pain, grace, perseverance, and vulnerability on all levels. But this is not your average musical, and these are not your average actors. Next To Normal – as described by The New York Times – depicts the “portrait of a manic-depressive mother and the people she loves and damages is something much more: a feel-everything musical, which asks you, with operatic force, to discover the liberation of knowing where it hurts.” The lead roles of Dan and Diana (husband and wife) are played by Kelly Carey and Larry Young, who have brought the production of Next To Normal to new heights. But what you may not know is that the two leading actors have a history that go beyond the stage of these characters.

Enter Kelly Carey: a poised, well-rounded professional actress and singer whose resume is nothing short of excellence. Not only being an avid participator of Actors’ Theatre productions – such as Floyd Collins, Bat Boy the Musical, Spitfire Grill, Rabbit Hole, and Tick Tick Boom – Kelly has also performed other roles in Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, and The Marvelous Wonderettes. Kelly has notably shared the stage with Broadway Actor Timothy Shrew and Tony-Award winner Sutton Foster, while also being a “swinger” in the developmental run of the Broadway bound CHIX 6 in Queen’s Theatre, New York. And now Kelly is back for Actors’ Theatre debut of Next to Normal, playing the role of Diana.

Enter Larry Young: whose level of talent, drive, and discipline goes beyond Grand Rapids to a solo debut in Carnegie Hall. While also a devoted participant of Actors’ Theatre – with Grand Award winning performances in Bat Boy the Musical, Urinetown, and The Kiss of the Spider Woman – Larry too has shared the stage with Tony-Award winning Sutton Foster and has traveled nationally and internationally for his performances. Larry has performed for a number of theaters including Mason Street Warehouse Theatre, Circle Theatre, Bijou Orchestra, PEP Productions and Hope Summer Repertory Theatre – his fifteen years’ experience as a professional actor and singer shining through, impressing, and succeeding no matter what the environment. Here, Larry is back once again on the Actors’ stage in Next to Normal as the role of Dan.

Enter the dynamic duo: who since their first Actors’ show together (Floyd Collins) in 2000; Kelly and Larry have continued working together through a myriad of projects – both as friends and business partners. With shows such as Floyd Collins and Bat Boy the Musical under their belts, they developed their talents further in establishing Creative Edge Productions as co-founders. Creative Edge Productions started in 2009 – beginning more as a project than an actual business. The idea was initially sparked by Kelly, who was asked to do a live musical showcase by the DeVos Place for a finale of an event. Turning to Larry for help, they were able to succeed and showcase a phenomenal finale for the DeVos event. Since then, Kelly (artistic director) and Larry (managing director) have combined their talents into a unique, personalized entertainment business, where they specialize in providing entertainment for benefit concerts, fundraisers, and conventions. A notable event they have been showcasing for over three years is Broadway, Our Way, a performance tribute to memorable Broadway songs.

But after several debuts outside of Actors’ Theatre – both locally and nationally – Actors’ Theatre remains an almost nostalgic workplace environment for Kelly and Larry. Working with Actors’ Theatre has always been a positive experience for them, where there is drive for success, high commitment, and love of the challenge collaterally acknowledged throughout the entire rehearsal process. For Kelly, she continues working with Actors’ because of the more challenging material they provide, as well as the competition and high expectations of auditions and productions. Actors’ Theatre is a place Kelly sees as an opportunity to grow and develop more as an actor, a place of challenge but also reward. “I’m a mom, I have a full time job, and I’m a voice teacher for over thirty students,” says Kelly, “deciding to work here [at Actors’] is a serious commitment, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t absolutely love it.” For Larry, Actors’ Theatre marks the stepping stone of the start of his acting and singing career. Starting off as an education major, Larry took acting classes and participated in productions as extracurricular activities. It wasn’t until Fred Sebulske – founder of Actors’ Theatre and also Larry’s acting professor at GRCC – recognized Larry’s natural talent and convinced him to pursue and cultivate his art. Now, with a BA in Theatre from Hope College, Larry has embraced theatre as his lifestyle and sees Fred as the start of it all. “Fred was the reason why I got into theatre,” says Larry, “he was so nurturing and wonderful and fantastic. He was the one who pushed me forward. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Fred.”

And now Kelly and Larry are to be seen in a dynamic duo once again, performing the roles of Diana and Dan in the production of Next To Normal. Larry’s love and knowledge of the show is very evident – noting that he saw the performance in New York twice, as well as the tour in Chicago – and he deeply respects the music, the story, and the depth of the characters. He describes how the message of the show is powerful, “that even though there is no real solution, there is a light in the dark; there is hope.” Larry’s appreciation and passion for Next To Normal resonates solidly through his character, as he has embraced the opportunity to really dig into the acting and challenge of the vocal arrangement. For Kelly, Next To Normal was a show she was unfamiliar with, but after listening to the soundtrack, she was completely captivated from beginning to end. “Whenever I listen to a new musical track, I jog to it. I was listening to Next To Normal and when I got to the last song, I realized I had been running nonstop for two hours and I didn’t even notice because of how struck I was by the soundtrack.”

Performing in a production of Next To Normal has been on both Kelly and Larry’s bucket list of characters. And now, not only do they get to star in one of their top musicals, but they get to perform together once again. Kelly and Larry – the professional and talented actors as they are – have completely embraced the show as seen through their unwavering drive and commitment to both preserve and elevate the beauty of Next To Normal through their characters. The dynamics of the show come with difficult challenges, but Kelly and Larry have overcome these and have dived into the making of Next To Normal heart first.

Want to learn more about Creative Edge Productions?
Visit www.creativeedgeproductions.net
Kelly Carey, artistic director: Kelly@www.CreativeEdgeProductions.net
Larry Young, management director: Larry@www.CreativeEdgeProductions.net

Interested in voice lessons with Kelly Carey?
Visit https://www.facebook.com/KellyCareyVoiceStudio for more information

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Filed under Plays and Productions

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