Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - TANYA MACNAUGHTON

RACHAEL Beck acts to make her au­di­ence feel they are not alone and it would be dif­fi­cult to find a greater rea­son to do that than with a pro­duc­tion about men­tal ill­ness.

The ac­tress and singer will make her de­but for Black Swan State Theatre Com­pany (BSSTC) this month in the Tony Award-win­ning rock mu­si­cal Next to Nor­mal, which ex­am­ines a slice of fam­ily life where mother Diana (Beck) has bipo­lar dis­or­der.

“It’s funny and dark, it’s very emo­tional, it’s about hu­man frailty and about cop­ing with those sit­u­a­tions, bat­tling with the un­known,” Beck said.

“Peo­ple with men­tal ill­nesses don’t know what’s go­ing to be pre­sented day af­ter day and what works one day in terms of med­i­ca­tion may not work the next day, week or month.

“It brings to light all those things and the rip­ples of how it af­fects fam­ily and peo­ple who sur­round them.

“The peo­ple who sup­port and care for those with men­tal ill­ness, whether it’s schizophre­nia, bipo­lar, melan­cholic de­pres­sion or what­ever, they need to be sup­ported and un­der­stood as well.”

Beck said she had pre­pared for the role through re­search with the Black Dog In­sti­tute, but like many work­ing on the show had also seen it touch fam­ily and close friends.

“And as mor­bid as the pro­duc­tion sounds, it also looks at the hu­mor­ous side as well,” she said.

“I’m very aware that I don’t want peo­ple to think we’re be­ing dis­re­spect­ful but also to know that laugh­ter is one of the cop­ing de­vices, mak­ing things light when things are hard.

“I love that Black Swan have been brave enough to take this on­board; it’s def­i­nitely time to put this out. It cer­tainly ran for years and years on Broad­way and now it’s time for Perth to see it.”

The pro­duc­tion has a broad cross-sec­tion of mu­sic from rock and folk to jazz and clas­si­cal, and de­spite this be­ing Beck’s first BSSTC pro­duc­tion she is no stranger to cast mem­bers Bren­dan Han­son and Michael Cormick.

“I did Singing in the Rain and Les Mis­er­ables with Bren­dan, and Michael was my beast in Beauty and the Beast,” she said.

“Michael’s my best friend and plays my psy­chol­o­gist in this, al­though I think usu­ally I’m his.

“He’s the god­fa­ther of my chil­dren and we’re liv­ing to­gether in Perth while work­ing on this, so it’ll be great to have that sup­port go­ing home af­ter the show in an emo­tional mess.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d444637

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