New play, A Life, to debut at the Collingwood Arts Center

. April 12, 2018.
(Left) John DuVall (above) as Nate in A Life. 
“We’ve worked together so much, we have a familiarity with one another and sort of speak the same language,” 
director Albright said. (Right) Reina Mystique and Gabrielle Southwell rehearse A Life. Both actors will play 
multiple roles in the production.
(Left) John DuVall (above) as Nate in A Life. “We’ve worked together so much, we have a familiarity with one another and sort of speak the same language,” director Albright said. (Right) Reina Mystique and Gabrielle Southwell rehearse A Life. Both actors will play multiple roles in the production.

Nate, a gay man who lives in New York, is recovering from his latest breakup, the most recent in a long line of failed connections in his life. Trying to make sense of it all, he begins focusing on astrology— hoping to find an answer to his heartache among the stars. But, as playwright Adam Bock will make clear before his show’s runtime is over, the true answer may have been in front of him all along.

That’s the premise of A Life, Bock’s new play that will make its Toledo debut at the Underground at the Collingwood Arts Center on Friday, April 20 at 8 pm. Directed by area veteran Jeffrey Albright, the show debuted in 2016 on Broadway with David Hyde Pierce in the lead role.

Liberating

Albright said that there is a freedom that comes with presenting a new play like this to an unfamiliar audience.

“With this play, in particular, there’s a big surprise sort of midway through the show that completely makes the show change direction,” Albright said. “I actually saw this play in 2016 with David Hyde Pierce, and I’m glad I didn’t know when I saw it.

“That’s very liberating, to be able to present a play, and people don’t really know what’s going to happen.”

Albright submitted the show to the reading committee of Actors Collaborative Toledo for consideration and he is very familiar with John DuVall, the local actor who will be playing the incredibly challenging central role.

“He’s (John’s) done a lot of shows. One particular show we did together as actors some years ago, which was about a 45-minute monologue, to begin with,” Albright said. “When I decided to do the show, I didn’t know that John would be the actor. He auditioned with several other people, and he’s the one that I picked.”

“We’ve worked together so much, we have a familiarity with one another and sort of speak the same language— me as a director and he as an actor, and the communication, we have is like shorthand.”

Connecting with people

The rest of the cast includes Carol Ann Erford, Greg Kissner, Reina Mystique, and Gabrielle Southwell. The female performers each play multiple roles— the details of which Albright is careful not to divulge, lest the play’s central surprise be spoiled.

“Gabrielle, it’s her first time ever onstage, so that’s fun, to work with somebody who is completely inexperienced and raw, and watch her really blossom and grow in the rehearsals. Then, Carol Ann Erford, who’s a veteran, has been around for years, with a mix of people in other roles. So it’s a real sort of an eclectic cast that I’ve been very pleased with.”

Above all, Albright said he hopes his audience will come away from A Life with a sense of how important connection with other people really is— and how we may not understand how many lives each of us have touched.

“He’s talking about the stars and everything, but really what he’s talking about is looking for love and connection, and never quite being able to make it click. And him turning to astrology is sort of his last thing where we see him, where he’s tried everything else and he desperately wants to find a connection with another human being,” Albright said. “The play speaks about how important interpersonal connection is, and about how sometimes when we don’t know that we have connections with people, we really do.”

$15. 8pm, Friday-Saturday.
April 20-21, 27-28.
The Underground at The Collingwood Arts Center,
2413 Collingwood Blvd.,

419-205-0409. act419.org