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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Broadway's next fall

The cast of next fall

I finally got the chance to see next fall, nominated for Best Play at this year's Tony Awards. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, the play so impressed Elton John that he and his partner/husband David Furnish produced the show.

The play was wonderful, so poignant and funny, it is a shame it has closed. The ensemble of actors, Patrick Breen, Maddie Corman, Sean Dugan, Patrick Heusinger, Connie Ray and Cotter Smith, have been deservedly acclaimed for their performances. It reminded me of last season's The Norman Conquests in that way; the relationship between the actors was real and in the moment.

Breen merits special recognition for his portrayal of Adam, who is a 40-something sad sack of a guy. He works in a candle store owned by his friend, Holly, and just can't seem to get his life together. He can hardly believe his luck when 20-something cater waiter/actor Luke becomes his live-in boyfriend.

Luke (Heusinger) is a fundamental Christian who struggles with homosexuality; he often prays after sex and that freaks Adam out.   He hides who he is from his bigoted/racist father for fear that he will not be able to see his younger brother if his family knows he is gay. He tells Adam that he will come out to his family "next fall", when his brother is in college. But next fall never seems to come.

Smith is remarkable as Luke's bigoted, good ol' Southern boy father. He manages to make the father somewhat likeable, and when he uses a vile racial epithet in one scene, the audience audibly gasped.

Luke is involved in a bad car accident and is in a coma. Luke's father, and his mother, Arlene (the amazing Connie Ray) fly to New York, unaware that Adam and Luke have been living together for four years. Much of the action takes place in a hospital waiting room, and anyone who has been there will recognize the powerful dynamics among the loved ones there.

I really enjoyed the flashbacks to Adam and Luke's relationship. Watching it you realize that love and relationships are basically the same, no matter who is in them. People want to be loved and supported by the one who loves them.

 There are so many big things in this play- the meaning of family, love, friendship, loyalty, the role of religion- I found myself thinking about it long after the play ended. The ending is so sad, I sobbed all the way back to the subway.

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