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Carroll native leads performance of Tony Award winning musical

The looming Memorial Day weekend could have provided some rare down time for Jordan Stocksdale.

He is Way Off Broadway's creative director and children's theater manager. The Frederick-based theater organization is taking a break for the holiday and has no dinner theater performances scheduled.

Even so, Stocksdale will be on stage anyway.

Stocksdale, a Westminster High graduate, is taking advantage of Way Off Broadway's off weekend to put on a show of his own. He will be leading a production of "Next to Normal" at 8 p.m. today through Saturday at Way Off Broadway Theater in Frederick.

This is becoming an annual tradition. Stocksdale uses the open weekend for shows by his own theater company, Stocking Productions.

Two years ago, Stocking Productions took on "Into the Woods." Last year, it was "Rent." And this year, Stocksdale's company will perform "Next to Normal," a rock musical about a mother who struggles with bipolar disorder and the effect it has on her family.

"Next to Normal" won a Tony Award for Best Original Score in 2009 and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010.

Stocksdale is performing as Dan Goodman, the father in the play.

"It's a heavy show and it has an uplifting message," Stocksdale said. "The music is incredible. It's a storyline that addresses mental illness and depression issues."

Stocking Productions is run by Stocksdale and his friend Laura Walling. They started the company six years ago while attending Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va. The company puts on shows during otherwise down times.

Few theater events are scheduled in the region during Memorial Day weekend with many in the region planning getaways. Not everybody leaves, though, and Stocksdale is putting on the type of show that is unique to see at Way Off Broadway.

The dinner theater is operated by Bill Kiska and his family in Frederick. You name the role, and Stocksdale will fill it there at some point, including acting, directing and behind-the-scenes work.

"Not many people can say they take advantage of every aspect they majored in," Stocksdale, a musical theater major, said.

Typically, the Way Off Broadway performances are upbeat musicals and comedies. This month, Way Off Broadway is hosting "9 to 5: The Musical" and Disney's "Cinderella."

"At dinner theater, people want to laugh and have a good time," Stocksdale said.

While he relishes those productions, Stocksdale also enjoys the occasional break from the norm, which is what "Next to Normal" provides. It's a chance to take on an award-winning poignant drama, one with a score that Stocksdale called outstanding.

"I like to bring shows to the area that are not very mainstream and don't get done a whole lot," he said. "This one weekend window is a perfect way to do that."

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