fter a long 18 months, NextStop Theatre Company is back producing shows for its Herndon stage, with its latest offering the humorous “An Act of God,” which was a huge hit on Broadway in 2015 when Jim Parsons and Sean Hayes both took on the lead.
Jacob Yeh, who is known to NextStop audiences for playing Darcy in the 2019 production of “Pride and Prejudice” and his Helen Hayes nominated role of Lee in “East of Eden,” takes on the titular role for NextStop’s version.
“What’s not fun about playing God?” Yeh said. “It’s been so much fun. I think everyone has a side of them where they think, ‘What if I was in charge of everything and had unlimited power?’ This is a guy who suffers no doubt, he’s God. He declares things, he feels strongly about them and he’s not afraid to tell you about them or offending anyone else.”
The play is adapted from Javerbaum’s “The Last Testament: A Memoir By God” and follows God himself revealing some of the mysteries of the Bible and answering some of the deepest questions that have plagued mankind since creation.
“What’s really fun about it is finding the ‘human’ side of God,” Yeh said. “Whether you believe in him or not, the character that Javerbaum has written, and the one I want to portray, is a God that’s relatable.”
Joining The Almighty on stage are angels Gabriel (played by Evan LaChance) and Michael (played by Bryanda Minix), with Mary Myers serving in the role of Understudy.
“The angels sort of take care of the other stuff, whether it’s running the projector or getting him water when he needs it, or selling the merchandise,” Javerbaum said. “He has a relationship with these angels and like any subordinates, there are times you really love them and appreciate what they do, and other times they annoy you with too many questions. That makes the play accessible and entertaining.”
Directed by Tuyet Pham and written by playwright David Javerbaum, the show will run from August 12 to September 5, with NextStop’s producing artistic director Evan Hoffmann thrilled to be bringing this work to the stage.
In fact, he first started talking to Yeh about playing this role just as the pandemic was starting.
“We had hoped things would start off in the spring, so I went out and got the script, read it, and it was hilarious, but then things got delayed and delayed and things got worse,” Yeh said. “We had thought maybe theatre wouldn’t be starting up again until 2022.”
But thankfully, COVID cases started dropping and theaters across the U.S. started planning seasons, and Yeh reached out to Hoffmann about getting the show back on track.
“I called Evan up out of the blue and told him why I thought this was the perfect, come-back-to-theatre show because it’s relatively low risk—a small cast, it’s not a huge set, and it quickly became a go,” Yeh said. “We’ve
all watched our fair share of streaming and that was great to get through the pandemic, but we’ve all been missing live theatre.”
He especially likes that the play brings some interesting questions to mind and challenge people as to what they do believe.
“I go to church and there was a little trepidation as some of this stuff is slightly irreverent, maybe more than slightly,” he said. “You’re not seeking to offend anybody, but no one goes in thinking I am really God. We don’t often get challenged or confronted on some things, and hopefully the play does so in a super fun and funny way.”
While Yeh has never seen a production of “An Act of God” himself, he feels NextStop’s version is one that any fan of comedy will enjoy.
“It coats these important discussions in a fun, chocolatey, crunchy wrapper that makes it easier to go down,” he said. “I don’t think anyone will take this too seriously, but it will make people think a little.”
For more information, visit www.nextstoptheatre.org.