The more David Orr read Geoffrey Nauffts’ play “Next Fall,” the more he liked it.
“Prior to committing myself one way or the other, I like having the opportunity to look at something,” said Orr, who plays the father of a Christian conservative family dealing with a serious medical emergency in the Curtain Call Theatre production of Nauffts’ 2010 Tony-nominated play, which opens Friday.
“My schedule being what it is, if I can get better-educated ahead of time, that’s what I’ll do. This is a very thought-provoking piece of work, so I decided to proceed and go ahead and audition.”
The play centers on the lives of two gay men, Adam, played by Kris Anderson, and Luke, played by Pat Rooney, who have kept their relationship secret from Luke’s parents. When Luke is critically injured in an accident, his parents, played by Orr and Curtain Call founder and artistic director Carol Max, discover the nature of their son’s close association with Adam.
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham
WHEN: Friday through Feb. 11; show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, and 7:30 p.m. Thursday
HOW MUCH: $22
MORE INFO: 877-7529, www.curtaincalltheatre.com
Story of struggle
“But the play is really not about how the parents deal with their son’s relationship,” said Orr. “It’s more about the relationship between Adam and Luke and how they have been struggling with it. Luke is the son of two conservative Christians, and I would say also that he is a fundamental Christian. He’s struggling with his faith in the context of his relationship with Adam, and Adam is desperate to be recognized as a very important part of Luke’s life. That’s the real dynamic. The father, the parents, do play a very significant role, but it’s more about the two men and their relationship.”
“Next Fall” was first performed off-Broadway in New York in May of 2009, and moved to Broadway in February of 2010. A veteran television and film actor, Nauffts is artistic director at the Naked Angels Theatre Company in Manhattan. “Next Fall” is his first play.
Sheryl Kaller, the original director, as well as the entire off-Broadway cast, reprised their roles on Broadway, and New York Times critic Ben Brantley called the production an “artful, thoughtful and very moving story.”
It was nominated for two Tonys — Best Play and Best Direction — and earned Nauffts the 2010 Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award (Best New Play). The play closed on Broadway in July of last year and is quickly becoming a popular production for regional theaters.
“The language of the play is real language,” said Orr, who was recently appointed deputy chief of the Schenectady Fire Department. “It doesn’t feel forced at all. It seems very natural, and it asks some very interesting questions. It’s not Neil Simon, but it is incredibly thought-provoking, and the characters are very believable.”
Orr feels his character, Butch, isn’t your stereotypical self-righteous and overzealous conservative Christian.
“He isn’t overbearing, nor is he such a nice guy,” said Orr. “He’s a character who has grown up under some difficult times and has had a rocky path in life. But he develops himself into a successful businessman, and like people who have had some tough beginnings — he had no anchor, no foundation — he holds onto his Bible like a rock. He holds onto it very strongly and he believes in it strongly.”
Adding more grist to the emotional mill is the fact that Butch and his wife, Arlene, are divorced.
“It’s a play about people with a lot of baggage in their life, and that baggage gets in the way of living their life,” said Max. “It’s about showcasing humans as humans, and they’re not necessarily at their best or their worst. They’re just human and they have their good points, their bad points, and their pitfalls.”
Although she has not seen a production of “Next Fall,” Max could tell from reading the play and the reviews it garnered that she wanted to mount it at Curtain Call.
“The writing really makes the audience feel the emotion,” she said. “It’s very intense. I hadn’t heard of the playwright, but it was nominated for a Tony just last year, so that says something.”
Anderson was also unfamiliar with Nauffts’ work as a playwright.
“I guess he works all the time as an actor, but what drew me to the play was the writing,” said Anderson. “A new play this well-written doesn’t come along that often, and it’s also very funny. I didn’t really realize how deep the play was until we started rehearsing, but there are also comic moments in it. It’s a great play.”
Also in the cast are Joanna Palladino as Holly and Jed Krivisky as Brandon. Chris Foster is the director.
“It’s about a family coming together, and some parts of that family are traditional, and others are not so traditional,” said Orr, who also worked at Curtain Call in February of 2008, playing Roy Applewood in “Looking for Normal.”
“The play opens in an intensive care unit of a hospital, and along with dealing with the medical emergency, the characters have to deal with a bunch of other things going on. And, even in a crisis, there are some funny moments. Just as in life, there are always a few comedic moments.”
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Life and Arts