Next Fall On Stage in Visalia

May 11, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Theatre

by Nancy Holley

Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.

A promise made and not kept is the “proverbial straw” in Next Fall, the Visalia Players’ production that opens at the Ice House Theatre on Friday, May 13.

Luke and Adam’s five-year relationship is at a crisis when an accident changes the course of events. The action of the play occurs in the waiting room of the hospital after the accident and in flashbacks that depict the progression of Luke and Adam’s relationship.

“Luke is a very conservative Christian who is gay,” comments J.P. Rapozo. “He has not come out to his family because he doesn’t want to lose his brother.” Rapozo notes that the play is very timely and that the playwright does an amazing job of weaving the past and the present. Rapozo has a degree in acting and has just moved back to the Valley from LA.


Left to right: Jack Finley, Nicole McAvoy, Christopher Volkerts

Christopher Volkerts, another new comer to the Ice House Theatre, portrays Adam. “He’s an artist/writer, who is not very successful and is hitting his 40s at the start of their relationship. His life is not what he thought it would be. Luke is a devout Christian and Adam is an atheist.” Volkerts, who recently moved to Visalia from Merced, has done theatre all over the world.

“The characters deal in their own ways with very emotional situations. Next Fall provides the opportunity to see sensitive issues from differing points of view, allowing the audience to grow,” notes Melinda Hatfield. Hatfield depicts Arlene, Luke’s mother, as needing attention but loving her son very much. “She wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t always know what that is.” Hatfield was last seen in the Players’ production of Love Loss and What I Wore.

Jack Finley is enjoying himself, “I think that many seniors miss out on times in their lives when they should be blossoming because they won’t get off the couch.” Finley is back on stage as Butch after a 40-year hiatus and having a wonderful time. In describing Butch, Finley said, “His belief system has robbed him of the joy of walking with others who are different from himself. “

Next Fall is a good play about timely topics that is easily relatable and heartwarming. It has the opportunity to open your eyes,” commented Nicole McAvoy. “Holly is used as a buffer in tense scenes and at other times is a bridge between the characters.” McAvoy views Holly as less emotional and more logical than the other characters. Earlier this season, McAvoy appeared in Dogfight at the Ice House Theatre.

David Payne is Brandon, a long-time friend of Luke. Brandon cannot accept Luke’s relationship with Adam, which highlights the playwright’s insight that even those who deeply care about each other do not always accept one another unconditionally.


Left to right: Melinda Hatfield, David Payne, Nicole McAvoy

“This play is about life and one’s beliefs,” states Director Peg Collins. Collins notes that the playwright has used sexual orientation as a catalyst for conflict within the play, but emphasizes that the heart of the story is more universal — the battle between believing and not believing. “I really like the message of the play, and the actors are doing a wonderful job telling that tale.”

Next Fall opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2016 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 5/13, 5/14, 5/20, 5/21, 5/27, and 5/28 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 5/15, 5/22, and 5/29. NOTE: The show contains adult content and language.

For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.

Check out even more local theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!

To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLNXF in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.

Nancy Holley has been involved in the Visalia Community Players off and on since the 1970s, both as a director and actor. In 2010, she retired from 25 years as a software consultant and has since expanded her role at the Players. She is now Membership Chairman and assists with the Players on-line ticketing system.


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