In Part 2 of a series of interviews with the cast of Silhouette Stages Next to Normal, meet Susan Schindler.
Joel: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Susan: My name is Susan Schindler. I am married to a wonderful husband named Joe and I have 2 children named Jake and Annie. I am a kindergarten teacher in Baltimore, MD. I studied Musical Theater at Syracuse University and continue to follow my passion as a performer.
Why did you want to play Diana?
Diana is my dream role because she is such a complex woman. I am an actress who is a woman who has been married for 17 years, and has 2 children. I naturally feel the struggles of everyday life but to put myself in the mind of a woman who struggles with a mental disease and a loss of a child is unbelievable. Her songs are beautifully written with emotionally raw, sensitive and haunting lyrics.
What are some of the challenges of playing Diana?
One of the biggest challenges in playing Diana is playing someone that struggles with a mental disease and a loss of a child, both things that are not present in my life. Once I was cast in the role, I did a tremendous amount of research on bipolar disorder; the treatments, medications and results from various treatments. Another challenge as an actress was allowing myself to cross the line of uncharted emotional territory and still remain in control as an actress and singer. I also feel that finding her humor in this play was challenging but SO important!
How have Director Steven Fleming and Musical Director Scott AuCoin helped you shape your performance?
Both of them have encouraged me and supported my choices as an artist. They also gave me fantastic direction in this complex role. Their talent and experience was a huge bonus in the rehearsal process.
What do we learn about Diana when you sing your songs?
The songs that are written for Diana are simple but complex and powerful. You quickly learn that she is a wife and mother struggling to get through the hardships of her life through humor, fear, denial, emotional pain and acceptance. I believe the most important thing you learn is that no matter what she goes through physically, mentally or emotionally, she still remains strong all the way through the play.
What challenges have you had learning Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s score?
Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s score is exquisitely written! I consider myself an actress/singer and the part of Diana is perfect for a mezzo soprano. Although her range is not large, the emotion and power needed is a constant throughout the show. The moments in the songs that are soft and lyrical require vocal technique to sustain the voice and real deep feelings to portray the meaning in the songs.
What are you doing next on the stage?
Nothing yet. A comedy might be nice!
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Next to Normal at Silhouette Stages?
I want the audience to see and feel what it might be like to live in a family that has to deal with mental illness and/or grief of losing a child. I hope they can feel the pain, enjoy the beauty of the music and lyrics by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey and see the humor of this family. I also want them to get to know the fine performers I am lucky enough to share the stage with!
Meet the Cast of Silhouette Stages’ ‘Next to Normal’: Part 1: Jeremy Goldman.
Meet the Cast of Silhouette Stages’ ‘Next to Normal’: Part 2: Meet Susan Schindler.