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Saturday, 20 March 2010 11:49

Broadway Review: NEXT FALL

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Patrick Breen and Patrick Heusinger in NEXT FALL
Patrick Breen and Patrick Heusinger in Next Fall
Photo: Carol Rosegg
Next Fall is a modern drama that tackles, among other things issues that have long plagued the gay community in their search for marriage equality.  It also takes on the emotional impact faced in coming out to a family, some members of which will not be accepting.  In this case it's even harder because the person seeking the acceptance is not the family member but his partner who has long struggled with the fact that the family doesn't know.

Adam and Luke are a gay couple living the American dream until a tragedy turns their dream into a nightmare.  The thing that makes this play so terrific is that its talented cast has accurately recreated the atmosphere and tone you see when an event of this nature takes place.  It includes dealing with their beliefs, their regrets and their disappointments.  But it is those funny and honest moments when someone has been awake and stressed for too long, that give this play its heart. 

Luke has been in a car accident and has a major head trauma.  The event has pulled together Holly, his boss from the candle shop where he works, his lover Adam, his former boyfriend Brandon, his energetic million-words-a-minute mother Arlene and his dour conservative father, Butch (aptly named).  It becomes clear quickly that Luke, his family and his former boyfriend are wound way too tight when it comes to the gay thing.

Maddie Corman, Patrick Heusinger and Patrick Breen in NEXT FALL
Maddie Corman, Patrick Heusinger and Patrick Breen in Next Fall
Photo: Carol Rosegg

Next Fall originated with the Naked Angels Company last season.  It played to sold out houses and was extended two times.  I'm glad to say it hasn't lost any of its charm in the move to the Helen Hayes Theatre, a perfect size theatre for it.  It has a flexible and economical set by Wilson Chin that fluidly moves between apartment, rooftop, living room, kitchen and hospital waiting room.

Patrick Breen is outstanding as Adam the "son-in-law" struggling for his place in this situation and in his lover's family.   Patrick Heusinger sparkles as Luke, the all-American boy who has everything going for him.  Except for a brief scene in a hospital bed we see Luke as a vivacious struggling young actor who has come to New York to make a name for himself.  Connie Ray plays Arlene, Luke's mother, to perfection.  Cotter Smith as Luke's father Butch is a daunting presence.  He bears an eerie resemblance in both temperament and philosophy to George W. Bush, and God knows he scared me.  Sean Dugan as Brandon gives an honest performance as the conflicted and closeted bible-toting young man that ultimately drives away Luke.  Maddie Corman as Holly is sassy and quick with a one liner. 

While the struggle for the family's acceptance is prominent in Next Fall, so too is the struggle for God's acceptance.  The idea of redemption is prevalent as Luke asks Adam during one of their religious debates "Is it so wrong that I want you to go to heaven?"

It's sad that we are still having some of these arguments relative to gays and their place in their own, and others families and that they are frequently left alone and out in the cold in situations such as these.  Next Fall will make you laugh, cry, and most importantly it will make you think. 

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View full production credits at the Internet Broadway Database.

Last modified on Friday, 09 April 2010 15:21

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