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Next Fall

Nov 11, 2011 - Nov 20, 2011

Next Fall
By Geoffrey Nauffts

Tony Award Nominee – Best Play
Outer Critics Circle Award – Best New American Play
Pulitzer Prize for Drama – Nominee

Luke believes in God. Adam believes in everything else. Next Fall takes a witty and provocative look at faith, commitment and unconditional love. It’s the story of two men in love, two parents in denial, and two friends on speed-dial. Moving beyond a typical love story, this timely and compelling new American play provides us an opportunity to examine what it means to believe and what it might cost us not to.

“Compassionate, laugh-filled and enormously entertaining.” Associated Press

“Five stars. The best new play of the Broadway season. Be prepared to laugh some, perhaps to cry some, and then to rise in appreciation.” Time Out New York

“A serious drama that’s seriously funny.” New York Daily News

Adam: Todd Buchacker
Luke: John Graham
Arlene: Becky Scholtec
Butch: Jim Benda
Holly: Anita Holland
Brandon: Paul Valleau

Director: Brad Dell
Stage Manager: Austin Kopsa
Production Stage Manager: Rachael Rhoades
Scenic & Lighting Designer: Jay Jagim
Costume Designer: Mell Ziegenfuss
Sound Designer: Casey L. Gradischnig
Props Designer: Susan Sheriff
Hair/Wig/Make-up Designer: Cindy Hummel
Talk-back Presenter: Brian Eslinger
Carpenter: Paul Mostrom

Nov 14, 2011 | by Michael Morain | The Des Moines Register

This time of year, the gray days seem to creep in right out of the carefree blue. It can be sunny and warm until a gust of wind signals the season ahead.
“Next Fall” is like that, too. The StageWest show about two people in love is a dappled mix of light and dark, on stage through Sunday at the Civic Center’s Stoner Theater. It’s surprisingly funny and stone-cold serious both in turns and, in its best moments, at the same time.
In other words, it feels very real.
With a fresh, Tony-nominated script by Geoffrey Nauffts and clear, well-paced direction by Iowa State associate professor of theater Brad Dell, the story begins in a New York hospital, where a young man named Luke (John Graham) ends up after a car accident. Various people in his personal orbit collide in the waiting room, including his divorced parents (Jim Benda, Becky Scholtec), his boss (Anita Holland) and a quiet friend with a Bible (Paul Valleau). Luke’s boyfriend, Adam (Todd Buchacker), is the last to arrive, rushing back from a class reunion.
From that room, with its endless cups of coffee and blurred sense of time (underscored with soft lighting and music by designers Jay Jagim and Casey Gradischnig), the story flashes back to scenes from Luke and Adam’s relationship — their chance meeting at a party, the day they move in together and, later, their unsuccessful attempt to tell Luke’s conservative father that they are more than just roommates.
The show is frank. The two men flirt and squabble and cuddle the way couples do, and the actors’ easy rapport makes their partnership both lively and credible. (Graham teaches theater at Drake. Buchacker is a StageWest veteran, both as an actor and director.) Their authenticity pays off especially well when their conversation veers into deeper territory.
Here’s the catch: Luke believes in God. Adam isn’t so sure. When the subject first comes up, after Luke silently prays before a meal, Adam can’t help but pry into Luke’s religious beliefs, gently at first but then with a sharper edge. In New York, at least, it’s easier to be openly gay than openly religious.
Over time, Adam’s curiosity hardens into contempt, and he cracks jokes about Luke’s faith the way a meat-eater might roll his eyes at a vegetarian or how a rock fan might mock someone who likes country.
Is it a deal-breaker? Maybe. But it’s clear that Adam wants to believe, too. He pushes Luke’s buttons because he can’t flip a switch of his own.
The other characters reflect a range of perspectives, from Southern fundamentalism (which Benda presents without the usual cliches) to a fickle New Age mix of yoga and chanting (which Holland brings up with a shrug). It’s clear Luke’s mom believes in the Bible but more in her son (thanks to Scholtec’s talkative charm), while his friend is tangled in self-doubt (thanks to Valleau’s restraint).
The questions aren’t new. Storytellers have wrestled with the mysteries of creation and the afterlife from the “Odyssey” to “Our Town,” but here the actors struggle with the issues in such an everyday way that it’s easy to get swept into the debate.
During a post-show discussion on Sunday, one viewer said the show had turned her into a “born-again atheist.” Someone else disagreed, claiming the story reminded her that religion can be roomy enough to fit different kinds of belief.
So if you get a ticket — and you should — go with an open mind, and take the advice that someone gives Adam. Just let yourself go.
“You’re always so good at figuring out what’s not going to work,” a friend tells him.
The team who tells his story does just the opposite.


Nov 11, 2011
Nov 20, 2011
Event Category:


StageWest Theatre
900 Mulberry St., Suite 205
Des Moines, IA 50309 United States
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