Next Act’s season opens quietly, poignantly and with a gentle smile
In a fall season of big musicals, Next Act Theatre will open quietly, says producing artistic director David Cecsarini. This Friday, Next Act will open Four Places, Joel Drake Johnson’s contemplative play about aging parents and their adult children. The show runs through Oct. 10.
Johnson’s four-character play premiered in 2007 at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, where Johnson is resident playwright. Milwaukee’s production features three familiar actors, Mary MacDonald Kerr, Flora Coker and Mark Ulrich, and relative newcomer Laura Gray. The plot unfolds in a restaurant, where a sister and brother attempt to discuss their parents’ health and well being with their mother over lunch. The unseen father and husband becomes a focal point of their conversation and the intimate story of the moment where children exchange roles with those who raised them.
The very spare setting, Cecsarini says, aligns with Johnson’s vision of the play. “The actors create the reality.”
Next Act will stage Four Places in its temporary home at The Tenth Street Theatre, 628 N. 10th St., which is the permanent home of In Tandem Theatre. In Tandem is helping out Next Act during a transitional year, as the company’s long-time home, the Off-Broadway Theatre, has been dismantled by the building’s owner. Next Act has raised nearly two thirds of the money needed for a new theater in the Fifth Ward. Next Act should move into that facility next fall.