NEXT TO NORMAL
Music by Tom Kitt, Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Winner of 3 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama
Winner of BroadwayWorld Award Austria for Best Off-Production 2019
Ariana grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. She received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. and her Master of Music in Opera Performance at the University of South Carolina. Throughout her studies and since, she has performed in numerous theater productions, worked with Opera Carolina, and in 2007 she was the State winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition.
Since her move to Vienna, Austria in 2007, Ariana has concentrated on teaching and conducting. As the musical director of Showtime, Vienna’s English Theatre’s School for Performing Arts, she has arranged and conducted a variety of musicals and choral concerts. As musical director of Vienna’s English Theatre’s young professional company, YOUNG V.E.T, her credits include Spring Awakening, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Blood Brothers, Into the Woods, Rent, Dogfight and Next to Normal.
Ariana is very excited about the theatre’s latest educational endeavor, VETA, Vienna’s English Theatre Academy, a two-year professional acting diploma. As Head of Voice, she is thrilled to play a part in shaping future generations of theatre-makers. Outside of the theatre, Ariana also works as a choral conductor, performer and composer. She founded and continues to conduct The Vivid Voices, an internationally competing choir. Here in Vienna, the choir performs at various venues and productions, including the Burgtheater’s Macbeth, and as guest artist at the Diversity Ball.
Helen Jean Russell
Helen grew up making music. After moving to New York City, she acted, sang in bands, made performance art, and co-wrote and produced theatre that featured The City Singers, an a capella choir she cofounded and directed. Her debut CD, Holly Days, was released in 2008. After years in regional guitar theatre and as a founding member of the Seat of the Pants Band, she was invited to collaborate on the internationally acclaimed Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie, for which she was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Best Lead Actress. She is proud to have been featured in three productions on Vienna’s English Theatre’s stage: Woody Guthrie’s American Song, Woody Sez and Ring of Fire and now, having taken up residence in Vienna, she is very happy to mark her third time as a band member with this fabulous group of musicians.
Lisanne started her violin studies at the age of six in Tallinn Music Highschool with Tiiu Peäske. In the spring of 2017 she obtained her Bachelors degree from Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in the violinclass of Arvo Leibur. From 2015 to 2019 Lisanne was a member of the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. Since 2017 she has been studying at the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna, first with the Erasmus program under the guidance of Amiram Ganz and from 2018 with Professor Henja Semmler.
As a soloist, Lisanne has had the privilege of performing with the Orchestra of the 21st Century, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Virumaa, Haapsalu String Festival Orchestra and EAMT Baroque Orchestra.
She has taken part in various competitions with solo and chamber ensembles and won many prizes. She has participated in masterclasses of various professors such as Rachel Podger, Stefan Hempel, Christian Altenburger, Evan Rothstein and Florian Donderer to name a few.
As a violinist she is a very active and sought after ensemble partner and soloist, also frequently performing the baroque violin and studying under the guidance of Ulrike Engel.
Peeter started his violin studies in Collegium Educationis Revaliensis under the guidance of Tiina Pangsep and joined the class of Ivi Tivik from 2009-2014. Subsequently he studied in the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre with Mari Tampere-Bezrodny and graduated in 2019 from the Sibelius Academy in the class of Tampere-Bezrodny.
Peeter has participated in competitions such as: Kaunas Sonorum (2013): first prize, Estonian Young String Players Competition: laureate (2009), diploma (2013;2011), Best Young Instrumentalist: Second prize (2010), special prize (2008). Kuressaare String Festival: Favourite of the Audience (2011;2012). In 2015 the piano trio Margus/Kõlar/Soon was selected to represent Estonia in the European Chamber Music Teachers’ Association’s conference in Riga. Peeter has performed as a soloist with the Orchestra of the Estonian Defence Forces, Estonian Musicteachers Symphony Orchestra, Haapsalu String Festival Orchestra, VHK Chamber Orchestra, Youth Orchestra „Reaalmažoor“, Pirita Guitar Orchestra, Estonian Kantele Orchestra and orchestras of Juuru- and Haapsalu Summercourses.
He has had the privilege of obtaining masterclasses from Sergey Kravchenko, Pavel Berman, Yuri Zhislin, Ulrike Danhofer and being a participant in mastercourses of Christian Altenburger and Anna-Liisa Bezrodny. Peeter was a member of Tallinn Chamber Orchestra from 2016 to 2019.
Gabriel was born in Bogotá, Colombia. Since 2009, he has been living and working as a musician in Vienna. In June he will complete his Guitar Diploma and Pedagogy studies at the Vienna Music Institute. Gabriel has played the guitar in Vienna’s English Theatre’s productions of Rent in 2017, Dogfight in 2018 and Next to Normal in 2019. He is excited to be back and rocking the guitar part again for this season’s production of Next to Normal.
Benjamin started his professional musical career at age seven, playing electric bass in the heavy-metal band Ballrock, formed with his two older brothers. Over their ten successful years together, they evolved into Baalrog, changing their focus to jazz and experimental music. Benjamin returned to his bass playing two years ago to join the band for the award-winning Youth Ensemble production of Dogfight at Vienna’s English Theatre, followed by last year’s YOUNG V.E.T. production of Next to Normal (also award-winning!). Now a 22-year old nursing student and beat-boxer, he is very happy to be part of this 2020 production.
Drums & Percussions
Johnny is an American-Austrian born and raised in Vienna by two opera singers. He started playing the piano at the age of six and drums at the age of ten. He loves making music, especially when he is given the opportunity to try new instruments, melodic or percussive. Johnny also enjoys a full life outside of the theatre and music world, he is a married, full-time dad and paediatric nurse in a hospital in Vienna.
He has played percussion for all the Youth Ensemble/YOUNG V.E.T. productions with a live band, Rent, Dogfight, and last season’s production of Next to Normal. He is thrilled to be back on board playing drums for this fantastic show.
Juan Sebastián Fonseca
Drums & Percussion
Juan Sebastián, born in Bogotá, Colombia, is a Latin American drummer who has studied with different teachers in Colombia, the United States, Switzerland, Germany and is about to start his studies in jazz with Dusan Novakov in Vienna. He is happy to be performing with the Next to Normal band and to be bringing his characteristic energy and musical essence to the show.