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NEXT FALL’s Patrick Breen Pens Feature for Broadway.com


June 22, 2010

Patrick Breen On How Next Fall Brings Two Worlds Together, Sans Rainbow Flags

By Patrick Breen

When Next Fall first came along, I had been living in Los Angeles for 10 years. I had gotten back to New York once or twice to do plays, and I remember thinking, “I want to do more theater.” But the timing was always off; it just wasn’t happening. Fortunately, [Next Fall] playwright Geoffrey Nauffts and I had done this play, previously titled The Gospel According to Adam, as readings with Naked Angels several times. And so, one day, he called.

“Come do this show,” he said. My initial reaction was, “I can’t.”

“I’m auditioning for pilots!” I told him. (I still had this dream of landing a series that would run for three or four years and make me enough money to buy a house.)

“Just accept the damn job, and if you get a TV show, you can leave,” he said. So I finally gave in. How could I not?

Of course, no big TV show came along. And I’m glad it didn’t, because I love this play. It has ended up being one of the peak experiences of my life.

I should have known Next Fall would be special when we first began. The script was strong enough to pack early readings with so many talented actors you could hardly believe you were in the room with them—Julie White, Jay O. Sanders, Patch Darragh, Zachary Quinto, Maryann Plunkett. (I should add that my current castmates are sublime and irreplaceable.) There was always something moving about the play, but it was the uniqueness of it that drew people to the table. Its effectiveness sneaks up on you. During the first scene, you get the set-up. “Oh, okay, hospital.” During the second scene, you go, “Oh. These guys are gay. It’s a gay play.” Then, suddenly, by the third and fourth scenes, which includes a declaration of religious faith, it ceases to be about “gay.” In just four scenes, Next Fall becomes a show you think you know and transforms into a play about two people, gender and orientation insignificant, trying to navigate love—the one thing that nearly everyone can relate to.

By the time Next Fall debuted off-Broadway in 2009, you’d come down the stairs to leave the show at the end of the night and there’d be two grown men just outside the lobby, programs in their hands, holding each other and weeping. The next night it would be a heterosexual couple thanking you. Some nights there were parents and adult children. Sometimes it was younger people, grateful to us for representing their story on stage. The entire cast realized then we were part of something unusual and profound.

Read Patrick Breen’s entire “FIRST PERSON” feature on Broadway.com at


Elton John & David Furnish present

NEXT FALL, a new play by Geoffrey Nauffts, directed by Sheryl Kaller

Now playing at the Helen Hayes Theatre (240 West 44th Street).

For more information, visit www.NextFallBroadway.com

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