Actors’ Theatre Presents the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Musical “Next to Normal”

Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids is proud to present the West Michigan Premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Next to Normal. With book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and original music by Tom Kitt, Next to Normal originally premiered off-broadway in 2008 before a re-worked version transferred to Broadway in 2009.  Critics have lauded this contemporary musical as “a feel-everything musical”(The New York Times) and “a work that sings from a bruised heart, not a contented one.” (The Washington Post) Next to Normal was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – one of only eight musicals ever to be given the prestigious literary award.

Next to Normal tells the story of suburban mom Diana, who struggles to battle her mental demons, brought about, in part, by bipolar disorder. Her husband Dan fights to help keep both her mind and his family stable, even as Diana decides to suddenly go “off meds.”  Their sixteen year-old Natalie, on the other hand, can’t seem to escape the shadow of her mysterious eighteen year-old brother – who has a surprise of his own.

Next to Normal  is a “brave, breathtaking musical” (Washington Post) about a family attempting to find a balance between taking care of themselves and taking care of each other. The production will be directed by Actors’ Theatre founder and recipient of the Norma Brink Lifetime Achievement award for Grand Rapids theatre, Fred Sebulske.  Musical direction for the challenging score will be provided by Scott Patrick Bell.   Sebulske and Bell also comprised part of the artistic team from last season’s Spring Awakening, which was awarded the 2012 Grand Award for best production of a musical.

Next to Normal will be presented on three consecutive weekends at GRCC Spectrum Theater, 160 Fountain Street NE, Grand Rapids, beginning on November 29, 2012.  All evening performances begin at 8PM.  A special benefit matinee will be presented at 2PM on Sunday, December 9, 2012 with a portion proceeds from the performance benefitting The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan.

Ticket prices begin at $24 for adults and $20 for students/seniors.  Students with valid ID are eligible for $10 RUSH seating, based on availability, beginning one hour before the performance.  Groups of ten or more are eligible for discounts.  Tickets for Next to Normal may be purchased online at or by contacting the Actors’ Theatre business office at (616) 234-3968.

COM 135: Volunteers at Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding

Thirty-three students from Marne Apolo’s two sections of COM 135: Interpersonal Communication joined together outside the borders of the classroom. Inspired by Bell Hooks’ call to take theory to the streets (mesh theory with practice), they reviewed Dialectical theory in the classroom prior and integrated it into their experience at Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding on Thursday, October 25.

Together they worked hard the entire time with smiles and music, all the while interacting with one another in a more relaxed, purposeful atmosphere.

Apolo shared:

Instead of being Professor Apolo, I was Marne, with my daughter Ava. I think to some degree my students were able to see me as more of a human being, instead of the symbolic role of the evaluating Professor. I am hoping that our more casual interactions will allow them to feel more comfortable approaching me, asking questions, and even being nicer. I think that the experience has bridged closeness for me that always seems challenging, given the inherent power differences. I feel more empathy for my students, having witnessed how hard they worked at Equest; raking leaves, hauling tarps of leaves to the dump pile, shoveling manure, cleaning troughs, staining picnic tables and the deck to the main office at Equest. I really cannot literally see the hard work they put into their coursework. I see the end result and can pretty much conclude what kind of time, energy, and reflection was invested, but at Equest, I was able to witness the dedication to start and finish a chore, the supportive communication with peers, and even the sweat on many a brow.

Equest was very grateful for the work, it is amazing how much progress 35 people can make in 4.5 hours when working together! It was a wonderful opportunity to strengthen a connection with one of GRCC’s community partners, practice the interpersonal concepts students have been studying, and create community within the class.

More pictures can be found at the GRCC Academic Service Learning Facebook page. Want to incorporate Academic Service Learning into your course? Learn more at:

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Ranked 2nd In NJCAA DII, GRCC Volleyball Advances To The National Tournament

Following their 3-1 win over Vincennes University, GRCC’s Raider Volleyball team is again heading to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament.

The Raiders came out of the gates quickly taking two sets from Vincennes 25-11 and 25-7.  Vincennes battled the Raiders for the thrid took taking it from GRCC 25-23 forcing the first fourth set the Raiders have played in over a month.

GRCC came back in the fourth with a vengence and left the court fueled with emotion after taking it 25-14.

The Raiders were led in kills by the sophomore duo of Nicole Czehowski and Molly Maynard who finished the contest with 13 and 12 respectively.  Kourtney Wolters and Amy Vander Wal tied for the third most with 8 each and Hannah Geelhoed scored 7.

Kaitlyn Wolters threw up 41 assists and managed 5 kills.  Czehowski led the Raiders in digs with 14.

Sophomores Hannah Geelhoed and Karleigh Strazisar were voted to the District F All-Tournament Team and Nicole Czehowski was named the District F Tournament Most Valuable Player.

GRCC’s Head Coach Chip Will was named the Coach of the Year in District F for the fifth time in six years.

Ranked second in NJCAA DII, GRCC advances to the NJCAA DII National Tournament hosted by Owens Community College in Toledo, OH.

The tournament begins on November 15, 2012.  Check back soon for paring information and additional tournament details.

Unique Learning Opportunity from Staff Development: Raw Holiday Desserts

GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education (SICE) has recently unveiled their newly built culinary amphitheater. The ‘Pietro and Regina Amphitheater’ honoring the grandparents of Peter Secchia, will enrich the teaching and learning experience in the state of the art SICE program.

Staff Development is thrilled to be able to offer this learning opportunity in such a spectacular venue and invite you to participate in the Raw Holiday Desserts session being presented by Jennifer Pohlman,  Raw Food Freelancer and Owner of Sip Organic Juice Bar, on Monday, November 12, 2012, from 1:00 – 2:30 PM.

Be one of the first to experience learning at its finest. Please register online at

GRCC In The News 11-6-12

Federal auditors say GRCC lacks written drug and alcohol prevention policy
Mlive November 05, 2012
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Grand Rapids Community College has been cited by federal auditors for lacking a policy that address the risks of drugs and alcohol, and for failing to measure the effectiveness of its substance abuse prevention programs.

How the Hybrid Classroom Found a Home at Grand Rapids
Michigan community college moves virtual and hybrid learning forward. November 5, 2012
Michigan is well versed in the traditions of higher education. Its flagship schools, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, deliver top-notch educations, as do its many other public colleges and universities.
But some of the most interesting innovation is happening at a much smaller school. With about 17,000 full-time students, 100-year-old Grand Rapids Community College has embraced an approach to learning, fueled by technology, that is turning standard methodology on its head.