Actors Bridge Ensemble Opens Nashville ‘Next Fall’ Run on Friday

nextfall1Geoffrey Nauffts’ Next Fall, hailed by critics and others as one of the smartest, wittiest dramas in recent history, makes its Nashville premiere Friday (March 20) through April  6. It is part of Actors Bridge Ensemble’s inaugural season in its intimate new studio space on Charlotte Avenue.

The play is one of the presentations in Actors Bridge’s 2014 The Secret’s Out Season. Presenting stories that are often kept secret, this season explores cultural taboos in the service of creating community dialogue, inviting audiences to consider their preconceptions and connect with their neighbors despite their differences.

About the Play:

Every relationship requires a leap of faith. Luke and Adam are the contemporary “odd couple” in this witty, poignant love story. Adam is a responsible but neurotic atheist, while Luke is an impulsive, underemployed actor and a devout Christian. When the unforeseen happens, family and friends’ deeply held beliefs collide. Through pain and laughter, intolerance and honesty, they discover how to live at the intersection of faith, love and acceptance. Called an “artful, thoughtful and very moving story,” by the New York Times, Next Fall was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play.

“As soon as I read this play, I knew we had to produce it. I have watched too many friends broken by the weight of trying to reconcile the faith of their childhood with the love of their life,” says Producer and Actors Bridge Co-Founder Vali Forrister. “This is a conversation we need to be having as a community, especially in Nashville, where the Bible Belt is still cinched so tightly.”

“The subject matter of Next Fall is timely, important, and, unfortunately, more common than we think,” says Lisa Howe, Executive Director of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The chamber and Out & About Nashville are sponsors of the show. “Nashville is fortunate to have Actors Bridge bring this story of finding common ground at a time when many people let their fear prevent them from engaging in dialogue with others who they perceive to be different than themselves.  Art imitating life gives us the opportunity to reflect, connect, and grow as a community.”

Directed by Ricardo Puerta, Next Fall stars Chuck Long, Conway Preston, Kara McLeland, Joe Blankenship, Phil Perry and Denice Hicks.  The production stage manager is Shannon J. Spencer.

nextfall5About the Director:

Ricardo Puerta comes to Actors Bridge from his native Colombia. After immigrating to the United States, he was awarded a BFA in Acting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and began his career as a professional actor. Having recently moved to Nashville, Puerta has been seen on many of the city’s premiere stages, including featured roles at Actors Bridge, The Nashville Children’s Theatre and The Nashville Shakespeare Festival. An inaugural member of the Sideshow Ensemble at Actors Bridge, Puerta has been honing his skills as director, most recently assisting ABE Artistic Associate Jessika Malone on Sideshow @ Actors Bridge’s regional premiere of She Kills Monsters. Puerta is excited to make his professional directing debut at Actors Bridge on this challenging and compelling new work.

About the Playwright:

Geoffrey Nauffts has worked as an actor both on and off Broadway, regionally and extensively in film and television. He’s directed short plays by Kenneth Lonergan, Frank Pugliese, David Marshall Grant, Theresa Rebeck and Suzan-Lori Parks, as well as the critically acclaimed production of Steven Belber’s Tape in New York, Los Angeles and London. He wrote, directed and co-starred in the award-winning short film Baby Steps with Kathy Bates and co-wrote Jenifer, a movie of the week for CBS with David Marshall Grant. He and Anthony Barrile are currently collaborating with Elton John on a score for Showstopper, a screenplay they wrote for Ben Stiller’s company, Red Hour. His critically acclaimed play, Next Fall winner of the 2008 Theater Visions Fund Award from the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation is currently playing to packed houses in its extended run at the Peter Jay Sharp. He is the current artistic director of Naked Angels where he’s been a proud member for over twenty-three years.

About Actors Bridge Ensemble:

abenextfallFor the last 18 years, Actors Bridge has been a force on Nashville’s cultural landscape. As an actor training program the company has worked with over 3,500 students who have gone on to perform on local, regional and national stages as well as film and television. As a professional theatre company its mission is to tell stories that impact our community by producing provocative and socially relevant theatre, creating new theatrical works, showcasing emotionally authentic ensemble acting and fostering a nurturing environment for theatre artists at any stage in their professional development to take creative risks. Actors Bridge has produced over 75 plays, including 14 world premieres and 45 Nashville premieres. Some notable Nashville premieres include The Laramie Project, The Vampire Monologues, Never the Sinner, Marisol and this season’s Next Fall, Blackbird and 100 Saints You Should Know. The company is led by co-founder Vali Forrister.  For more information:

Performance Schedule:

nextfall4Friday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 23 at 4 p.m.

Friday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 30 at 4 p.m.

Friday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 6 at 4 p.m.

Venue Information:

Actors Bridge Studio

4304-F Charlotte Avenue

Nashville, TN 37209 (entrance in rear of building)

Ticket Prices:

Advanced General Admission Tickets are $20 and are available at

General Admission at the door is $25.

Due to limited seating capacity, purchasing tickets in advance and arriving at the studio 30 minutes prior to show time is recommended.


Following the Sunday, March 23 and Sunday, March 30 matinees, there will be Talk-Back conversations with the cast and leaders of the LGBT community including ministers, attorneys, activists and others.

Confirmed for March 23 are Pastor Cindy Andrews-Looper, Pastor of Holy Trinity Community Church (largest Welcoming/Affirming church in Nashville) and Steven Altum, HRC-Nashville (Human Rights Campaign) Co-Chair.

Confirmed for March 30 are Pastor Greg Bullard, Pastor of Covenant of the Cross (another large Welcoming/Affirming Nashville church) and Steven Altum, HRC-Nashville (Human Rights Campaign) Co-Chair.


*Photos by John Jackson Photography and ABE logo courtesy Actors Bridge Ensemble.

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