"It's a rare production that isn't afraid to tackle heavy themes," Craig said. "While we're certainly much more willing to discuss mental illness now than 10 years ago, it's definitely something we still need to keep pushing out into the open, shine a light on and sweep away social judgments that leave so many ill people without care.
"I have a personal connection to the subject – I was diagnosed with a both a depressive and anxiety disorder 11 years ago and it's still something I struggle with and seek help for to this day. I wanted to have the opportunity to put some of my personal experience onto the stage in a piece that wasn't afraid to go to the dark places these issues can take us."
"With Next to Normal, the subject matter is obviously a difficult thing to handle," Craig said."Coming into it with my personal experiences, working on the show naturally brings up a lot of difficult emotions for me. Navigating those emotions and re-directing them into the work is a tough thing to do.
"Next to Normal is also a very intense show for the cast – they have to go to some dark places throughout the show, all while singing a non-stop score with a rock band playing along with them. Supporting them through that is really one of my biggest roles while directing the show."
"It's a challenge to make sure I'm hitting the arc of her mental health struggles appropriately while also making sure she's fully formed and not two-dimensional. Diana's journey is extremely important and I want to play it respectfully."
Involved in theatre from age 11, Elethea started her journey in Perth and went on to perform in Sydney and Melbourne. While in Victoria, she appeared in the Australian premiere of Bare: a pop opera and scored a Theatre People's Choice Award for best actress in a musical.
"Next to Normal appealed because the role is so incredibly challenging and the story is an important one to me, especially as we have become more aware of mental health and the treatments for disorders over the past decade or so," she said.
"I was also keen to work with director Craig Griffen again after working with him on Sweeney Todd."
Next to Normal plays at 8pm August 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, September 3, 4 and 5 with a 2pm matinee August 30. Tickets are $30, $25 concession – book at www.TAZTix.com.au or call TAZTix on 9255 3336. Melville Theatre is at 393A Canning Highway (corner of Stock Road), Palmyra.