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Next Fall on Broadway

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One powerful message of the play Next Fall is contained in its title. Simply, don't put things off: life may not wait till next fall. Or, as one character Holly (Maddie Corman) says, "One minute you are doing the crossword puzzle, and the next you are here."

Here is a hospital waiting room where Luke, a friend and employee at her flower shop, languishes in a coma after a hideous accident. As hope for Luke remains uncertain, we see him in flashback played energetically by Patrick Heusinger in this multilayered play by Geoffrey Nauffts and directed by Sheryl Kaller that had its world premiere in a sold-out Naked Angels production last summer. Extended several times, Next Fall --with its original ensemble cast --is now on Broadway in the intimate Helen Hays Theater. In the spirit of the title, see it now.

Waiting with Holly are several others: Luke's divorced parents, the racy Arlene (Connie Ray) and fundamentalist Butch (Cotter Smith), his agnostic Jewish boyfriend Adam (Patrick Breen), and another friend, Brandon (Sean Dugan), whose relationship with Luke is rather mysterious. The play deftly moves into scenes of Luke's life with these characters revealing his conflicts with his homosexuality (he prays after sex); his need to keep his life hidden from the aptly named Butch.

Especially poignant is Luke's relationship with Adam, a seeming mismatch, whose most immediate problem is, as non-family, his inability to see Luke at this critical time. The scenes that play out how they met, how Luke keeps the truth about Adam from Butch, are funny in the manner of Seinfeld episodes. Your laugh is bittersweet: these wonderfully drawn characters keep you painfully aware that the vibrant young man at center is in trouble.

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