Wednesday, February 3, 2010

David Furnish "Next Fall" Interview - EJ Attending Preview

When Elton John and his life partner, David Furnish, went to see the Naked Angels production of “Next Fall” last June, they were struck by how their own concerns as a couple were reflected in the play about the love story of two gay men – and the barriers they face when an accident leaves one of them in a coma and the other without legal rights to care for his partner.

In an interview on Monday evening Mr. Furnish said that he and Mr. John entered into a civil partnership in 2005 because of the very concerns raised in the play – and that those themes resonated with them so deeply that they decided to sign on as producers for the Broadway transfer and invest an undisclosed sum.

“One of the reasons Elton and I entered into our partnership – the first day it became legal in Britain to do so – is that we felt it was an opportunity to protect ourselves with official recognition of our relationship,” said Mr. Furnish, a film director and producer. “I found it quite poignant in the play when the character Luke is in the hospital and his partner can’t visit him and doesn’t have any civil rights.

“I’ve had many friends over the years who have been in same-sex relationships, and the family denies hospital visitations when one is sick,” he continued. “Or when the estate is settled and people who have built a life together has everything taken away from them either by the families or the taxman.”

Mr. Furnish said he and Mr. John, who was unavailable for an interview, began talking last fall to the producers of the Broadway transfer about coming on board. The two men offered suggestions about ways to make the show “a bit tighter, a bit sharper, a bit more poignant” but did not recommend any major re-writes and fully endorsed keeping the original cast of the critically acclaimed production that ran last summer at Playwrights Horizons.

Asked about the play’s commercial potential on Broadway in spite of lacking star performers, Mr. Furnish said: “I know celebrity casting is a big thing on Broadway at the moment, but I find it’s easier for me to lose myself in the play that I’m watching if I’m not dealing with a heavy recognition factor with the person on stage. A movie star can take you outside of what you’re watching.”

Since the show lacks stars, he added, perhaps the star power of the Elton John-David Furnish name can help.

“We’re going to support the show in every way that we can, doing publicity, coming to New York next week to see previews and offer input,” Mr. Furnish said. “We’re hoping that because there’s no celebrity name on the marquee, by lending our names – and our belief in and admiration for this show – more people will be aware that it’s out there.”

As producers it is likely that John and Furnish will have put money into the show and will allow their names to be used in the publicity and audience material. The couple also confirmed they are collaborating on the score of the film Showstopper.

“Next Fall,” by Geoffrey Nauffts and directed by Sheryl Kaller, is scheduled to begin previews at the Helen Hayes Theater on Feb. 16 and open on March 11

- nytimes

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