EltonJohnYou can say one thing about Elton John, his gaydar never fails him. His new Broadway play Next Fall, is drawing critical praise for its “deeply moving” portrayal of a gay couple’s brush with death. And it’s funny too!

The Geoffrey Nauffts play, is the first for Sir Elton and his partner David Furnish as producers.

John previously wrote the music for the hit Broadway adaptation of Billy Elliot: The Musical, which earned 10 Tony Awards last year. He has also composed music for Broadway’s Lestat, Aida and The Lion King.

Next Fall opened in New York on Thursday (Mar. 11) at the Helen Hayes Theater, without the big name stars that so many shows rely on these days to sell tickets.

It will be a tough sell without marquee names, The Hollywood Reporter proclaims, but then, again, Sir Elton John doesn’t get much bigger as names go.

The six person cast — Patrick Breen, Maddie Corman Sean Dugan, Patrick Heusinger, Connie Ray and Cotter Smith — is also being praised for their acting along with the directing skills of Sheryl Kaller.

The play focuses on two gay lovers, one of whom is hospitalized and near death. His friends, family and lover, gather and commence to hash over the “bigger issues” in life, like the meaning of God. The situation is ripe for witty asides and cutting humor, and the Next Fall delivers.

Heusinger plays Luke, an aspiring actor with a day job, who has an older, neurotic lover named Adam (Breen). He’s a 40-year-old a salesperson in a candle shop and works with his best friend, Holly (Corman).

Cast members Connie Ray (Arlene), Sean Dugan (Brandon), Cotter Smith (Butch), Patrick Heusinger (Luke), Maddie Corman (Holly), Patrick Breen (Adam)

Cast members Connie Ray (Arlene), Sean Dugan (Brandon), Cotter Smith (Butch), Patrick Heusinger (Luke), Maddie Corman (Holly), Patrick Breen (Adam)

Luke gets hit by a taxi, (not hard to do in New York City) and lies in the hospital with his life in the balance.

The accident brings together all the people who represent the facets of his life, from his somewhat stereotyped bigoted father, Butch (Smith), who unfathomably doesn’t know his son is gay, to Adam, who Butch can’t quite figure out.

From there, the play is told through a series of flashbacks that include the religious Luke’s first meeting with Adam, who can find no room in his life for a gay-hating God.

The play drew a rave review from The New York Times critic Ben Brantley, who called it “the kind of gently incisive, naturalistic play that rarely materializes anymore.”

The praise was equally effusive for the direction and cast. “Ms. Kaller keeps the play moving fluidly… And the excellent cast members never overplay.”

Through “sharp humor and unflinching honesty,” the play “paints a beautiful and funny portrait of modern romance, asking the hard questions about commitment, love and faith,” according to the production’s Web site.

Next Fall
Helen Hayes Theater
240 W. 44th St.
New York, NY.
Dates & Times:
Monday – Saturday at 8pm, Wednesday & Saturday at 3pm
Beginning March 15:
Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday – Saturday at 8pm,
Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday at 3pm
For Tickets, more info go to: NextFall.

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