LCT hopes to make Next to Normal, normal

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The Lawton Community Theater is gearing up for its final production of the season, with a musical called 'Next to Normal', that tackles the issue of mental health.

Dianna, the main character in the play suffers from a bipolar disorder and has psychotic episodes. During the show, cast members show how it can affect not only the person who suffers but also their family.

Amanda Richey, who plays Dianna, said she wants this to open people's eyes and make them more educated and aware.

"Hopefully, by coming to watch this show people will gain a better understanding and feel like the topic at hand is more approachable to open that dialog and have those discussions," Richey said.

The characters doctor is played by Dr. Shaun Calix, the Assistant Psychology Professor at Cameron University. Calix thinks it's neat how well the play addresses mental illness. He said in the play, Dianna has a hard time following through with her treatment.

"That's her struggle and that's also the struggle a lot of people have who are dealing with mental illness," Dr. Calix said. "Sometimes they don't seem to work, or they don't seem to work in a way that they want them to work initially and they make it hard to want to continue doing it."

Dianna's family wants her to get better but they also don't want to address what she's going through.

Calix thinks this will stimulate conversation not only for people who have a mental illness but from their friends and family too.

"It's fiction that's very close to real life and very relatable," he said. "I think that many people that come here are going to have some of their experiences normalized, have the experiences of their family and friends normalized and gain some catharsis from seeing the show in some ways."

The play opens Friday, June 15th and will run through the 17th. The second weekend of shows starts June 21st. You can get tickets from the box office. They range from $16 to $24.

The LCT cast is also hosting question and answer sessions on June 16th and 22nd. Cast members along with mental health practitioners will be answering questions and giving information about local mental health resources.

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