Theatre’s ‘Next Fall’ examines relationships
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media May 23, 2013 10:50AM
♦ May 24 to June 15
♦ Village Theatre Guild, 3S020 Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn
♦ Tickets, $18
♦ (630) 469-8230
Updated: May 24, 2013 1:10PM
A play by a writer from a popular TV show will be presented in Glen Ellyn.
“Next Fall,” by Geoffrey Nauffts, a former writer on the show “Brothers and Sisters” on ABC, is presented by the Village Theatre Guild May 24 to June 15 at the theater in Glen Ellyn. It is directed by James A. Liesz and produced by Sue Keenan, both of Glen Ellyn.
Show times are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, as well as 8 p.m. June 13.
“Next Fall” is a witty and provocative look at faith, commitment and unconditional love that examines the five-year relationship between two men, Adam and Luke.
“This is the first play (Nauffts) has ever penned, but he really had a message and something he wanted to say, and he tackled it in a beautiful way,” Liesz said. “It is about gay rights, it is about religion. The play is interesting because he throws so many things out there but he doesn’t pass judgment on any of it. He’s not trying to teach anyone, he’s not advocating one form of belief over another. The play is so beautifully written, and the relationship between the two men is so real. It’s just so pertinent to what’s going on today. The fact that we’re doing this play now could not be timelier.”
“Next Fall” opened off-Broadway before moving to Broadway in 2011. Despite that, it hasn’t been done much locally, he said.
“This is not a gay play. It’s a play everybody should see because it’s timely,” he said. “And as tragic as the play can be, it’s very funny. There’s a lot of humor in it. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it gets you angry, it makes you want to stand up and cheer. It’s got all of those elements. I’ve been directing for 35 years and I’ve never been so passionate about a project in my entire life.”
The plot centers on a young man who is involved in a tragic accident — he’s run over by a cab in New York. The play begins in an emergency room, and the rest of the play is largely flashback.
“You learn how these two men met each other, and how their relationship developed, and the fact that the younger one, Luke, is highly religious. He’s a Christian and the fact that being a Christian and being gay presents its own issues as well,” he said. “His partner, Adam, the older one, is agnostic. He does not believe in any kind of organized religion whatsoever. So there’s lots of tension between the characters because of the religious aspect, and because Luke has never told his parents he’s a gay man and has a partner. So obviously, Adam has very few rights.”
Despite the heavy material, there is still a lot of wit and humor in it, he said. Additionally, people with all kinds of views will see them expressed.
“You can’t walk away and get in your car and say, ‘That was nice,’ and go home. You have to talk about it. There needs to be discussion and reflection,” he said. “People need to talk about what they just witnessed.”
To that end, there will be a 50th anniversary celebration of the Village Theatre Guild, with a question and answer session about “Next Fall” on June 1. A wine and cheese reception will follow. Instead of the $18 ticket cost, patrons will pay $25 for that. The Village Theatre Guild is located near the northwest corner of Park Blvd. and Butterfield Road in Glen Ellyn.
The cast of “Next Fall” includes Tony Lage of West Chicago, Jared Titus of Oak Park, Deborah Ruzicka of Palatine, Christopher Williams of Aurora, JoAnn Smith of Naperville and Geoffrey Maher of Arlington Heights.