“Next to Normal” is the story of how mental illness affects a family, all in a rock musical format. Brian Yorkey wrote the book and lyrics, Tom Kitt composed the music, and Scott Schwartz is the director.
Tedder portrays Gabe, the son of Dan and Diana (Bob Gaynor and Catherine Porter, respectively). This role marks Tedder’s debut at the Alliance, a stage he said he wanted to grace for some time.
He was in Wichita at the time working on a summer stock gig when his agents told him about “Next to Normal” coming to Atlanta. He submitted a video audition, but thought it would be a long shot.
“As it turns out, the director and music director wanted to see me once I was back in New York,” he said. “I went in one Saturday and sang and read with them. They worked with me a little bit, and I got the job.”
Aside from the physical side of the performance, the cast also learned about mental illness. Tedder said, “We did a lot of research. We had a lot of dramaturgy with excellent dramaturges who brought us loads of information. The Alliance provided us with a lot of that stuff so that we could be informed so we’re not just playing people we don’t really know anything about.”
The Actor’s Equity Association’s logo portrays a set of masks, one smiling and one crying. Tedder, also an Equity member, said “Next to Normal” is the first show he has been in that represents the latter.
“It’s the first time I worked at the Alliance. It’s the first time I’ve had such responsibility in a role,” he said.
Although he has been on stages across the country, there is still no place like home. Tedder said he has been able to come to Georgia more often, and his family has been able to see the show multiple times.
“They loved it. They were very impressed,” he said. “My sister (Lisa) came to opening night. That was a lot of fun.”
Lyndsay Ricketson portrays Gabe’s sister, Natalie, in “Next To Normal.” She grew up in Cumming and graduated from Berry College in 2009 with a degree in musical theatre. She has worked with the Alliance before, but this is her first time sharing the stage with Tedder. However, her social circle was abuzz about her costar.
“I knew people who knew him so when I found out he booked it, several of my friends messaged and called me,” she said. “We just got along with each another really quickly. … Everyone should be proud of the work he has been doing. It’s been a joy to work with him and get to see his process as well. It’s a comfort to go on that stage knowing he’s got my back if I need him.”
Tedder graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theatre, but said the preparation he received at Pebblebrook is still relevant and valuable.
“Pebblebrook is an excellent springboard for college, and I would totally suggest people go to college. Get as much training as possible because when you go out in the field and into the business — and it’s truly a business — you will rely on that training,” he said. “I rely on that training that I got at Pebblebrook at every job.”
“Next To Normal” runs through Nov. 11 at the Alliance Theatre. For more information on tickets and show times, visit https://alliancetheatre.org