Olivier nominee Jack Wolfe on returning to 'Next to Normal'

The rising star is set to reprise his Olivier-nominated role as Gabe in Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s musical at Wyndham's Theatre in the West End this June.

Olivia Rook
Olivia Rook

Jack Wolfe went into “blank shock” when he discovered he had been Olivier nominated for his role as Gabe in Next to Normal, which had its UK premiere at the Donmar Warehouse last year and follows the impact of a mother’s struggle with mental health on her whole family.

“I didn’t really know what to do with myself,” he says excitedly. “I took myself to a Breakfast Club cafe and sat with one cup of tea for four and a half hours.”

The nomination is just the beginning for Wolfe, who will reprise the role in Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s musical when it transfers to Wyndham’s Theatre in June. London Theatre Magazine spoke with Wolfe about discovering his passion for acting and the return of Next to Normal.

How did you get into theatre?

I was a particularly nervous child — that hasn’t changed. I did a local production of Oliver! in Wakefield and the director ran a youth theatre on a Saturday morning, which was £1.50 for three hours of training. I don’t think the point of the theatre was to create actors — it was to give young people a voice. Without that youth theatre, I wouldn’t have been able to speak to my friends in school.

What does the role of Gabe mean to you?

Next to Normal premiered on Broadway 15 years ago, and it hit me at the perfect point as a teenager to discover the Tony Awards performance on YouTube. I was so excited to see it come to London, and then to be in it comes with pressure. The part was originated by Aaron Tveit, who is one of the most incredible Broadway performers, so it’s tough to not hold yourself to a standard that is unreachable. But [director] Michael [Longhurst] and [co-director/movement director] Ann Yee’s style was so empowering. [We have found] a very different way to tell the story than it was told 15 years ago.

Next to Normal includes challenging themes. How have you been supported?

The Donmar Warehouse partnered with Applause for Thought, which is a mental-health charity. We had a therapist who was with us weekly throughout the rehearsal process, as someone to gain knowledge from, but also for us if we needed to speak to someone outside of rehearsals. It was a very safe environment.

I think a lot of young actors feel “I can’t say no, and I can’t have an opinion on this.” It's really wonderful that we're entering a phase now where the idea of collaboration is important: you're hired for a reason, and you can’t create your best work if you’re feeling vulnerable.

How does it feel to take Next to Normal to the West End with the Donmar cast?

It’s the most exciting part of returning! [When we started the show,] Ann Yee, got us to spend the beginning of the rehearsal process getting to know each other in a physical language way, so that when we began to stage scenes, there were always invisible threads between us as characters. What it really does is bond actors together straight away. I’m so lucky to be working in a room with people I have idolised, in the form of Jamie Parker and Caissie Levy. The show is about family, and I love all the cast so much.

Book Next to Normal tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo credit: Jack Wolfe in Next to Normal at the Donmar Warehouse in 2023. (Photo courtesy of production)

Originally published on

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