Dutchtown High theater shines spotlight on mental illness

Dutchtown High School theater department is turning the spotlight on mental illness by performing the Broadway hit "Next to Normal."

The rock/pop dramatic musical production debuted off-Broadway 12 years ago in New York. The show is about a mother, Diana Goodman, who struggles with bipolar depression, and her family. Much of what happens is madness, including the paralleling of Dan and Diana’s marriage with daughter Natalie and boyfriend Henry’s lopsided relationship; Natalie’s rigid quest for perfection in school that she can’t have at home; and the symbolic problems generated by treatment-induced memory loss.

“This production holds an incredibly special place in my heart. My mother suffered from mental illness and with so many students who struggle today, I wanted to focus on this topic by bringing it to life at Dutchtown High School for the community to enjoy,” said Shannon Ehrmann, Dutchtown High's theater department teacher and director. “I am so proud of this extremely talented cast who have been giving it their all since the end of summer. Their voices are amazing and viewers will surely enjoy their theater experience.”

The cast has been rehearsing a minimum of six hours a week since July. Diana Goodman is played by Alex Arnold, a junior; Dan Goodman is played by senior Brayden Buyas; Natalie Goodman is played by sophomore Kyla O’Deay; and Gabe Goodman is played by sophomore Matthew Lass.

The cast also includes James Young, Ryley Young and Zeke Nance.

The production, which started Wednesday continues through Saturday.

Tickets will be available at the door of DTHS’s cafeteria, 13165 La. 73, Geismar before each 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students.

Rescue Alliance collecting items for pets

Rescue Alliance is collecting items to help pets and their families before, during and after natural and man-made disasters. The nonprofit group was formed by first responders in the Gonzales area to save, protect and care for companion animals in need because of disasters.

The group's goal is to fill 500 to 1,000 baskets to bring to disaster areas and to animal shelters in need.

The group is requesting, blankets, baskets, Neosporin, gauze and cat and dog treats, toys, harnesses, leashes, raincoats and outfits.

Items can be dropped off at the Petsmart in Gonzales and at Faithful Companions Off the Chain on South Range Avenue in Denham Springs. Items must be labeled for Rescue Alliance and can be purchased from the group's Amazon wish list at http://a.co/ahgcOS5.

Wreaths for sale

The Ascension Veterans Memorial Park Foundation is taking orders for a wreath to place on the graves of veterans this Christmas season.

The deadline to order a wreath for veterans graves will be Nov. 30. The program is part of the nationwide Wreaths Across America program to remember and honor the deceased veterans during the holidays. The cost of a wreath is $15. Wreaths ordered through the AVMP Foundation can be specifically placed on the graves of Ascension veterans through volunteers or families can pick up the wreaths and place on the graves.

This year, the AVMP Foundation will be honoring peacetime veterans for their service. Wreaths will be available at the ceremony to be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 14 at the Ascension Veterans Memorial Park in Gonzales. For more information or to order a wreath, visit www.facebook.com/AscensionVeteransPark or email ascvetspark@gmail.com.

Contact Darlene Denstorff by phone, (225) 388-0215 or (225) 603-1998; or email, ascension@theadvocate.com or ddenstorff@theadvocate.com. Deadline: noon Monday.