Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about mental health to open in Missoula

Cory Walsh

A Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical that deals with mental illness and grief will make its Missoula debut this week.

“Next to Normal,” an independent production, is showing at the Westside Theater the next two weeks.

The lead actress and co-producer, Petrea Torma, led the effort to bring the show to town after seeing it years ago. She plays a mother who has lived with bipolar disorder for years while raising her children with her husband in what appears to be an idyllic suburban life.

“Beneath that, you see the struggles that each of these characters face,” she said.

Andy Meyers, who plays the husband, said Torma is “such an advocate for mental health in her life that she really brings just an understanding and delicacy to it, and that’s what the role requires.”

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Torma, a fourth grade teacher at Paxson Elementary School, starred as the Witch in Missoula Community Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” last March.

She thought the pandemic made “Next to Normal” even more fitting, since society tends to discourage openness about mental health. She said people feel pressure to “push through

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