Next Act's 'unSilent Night' Combines Old-Time Radio and Human Drama on Christmas Eve
Next Act Theatre brings a delicate balance of drama and comedy to the stage this holiday season as it presents unSilent Night, a new retro show by local playwrights John Kishline and Edward Morgan. Next Act’s David Cecsarini is pleasantly irreverent as Frank, a semi-erratic radio host for the fictitious WNXT, a radio station in Milwaukee.
It’s Christmas Eve 1953 and Frank is wrapping up his broadcast. Cecsarini has a frustrated restlessness clanging around in the background of his portrayal of a man looking for some kind of truth. Molly Rhode brings gravity to the story as a producer suffering emotionally while still trying to keep things stable between Frank and WNXT’s station manager.
Doug Jarecki plays the station manager who is forced to deal with Frank’s unpredictability, but it’s his performance as a number of other characters calling in to the radio station that really defines his presence in the production. This was before talk radio when the idea of putting listeners on the air was new and radical. Facing the prospect of losing his job by airing callers, Frank does so anyway. His little experiment gets serious when a stranger enters the studio. Andrew Muwonge’s solemnity as the stranger balances comedy against drama. The show’s happy nostalgia for a 1950s Milwaukee is contrasted against the plight of an African American man suffering from darkness that would later be labeled post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s a show that speaks to a unified Milwaukee not afraid to see a more complete picture of the past, which illustrates the importance of human connection in the darkest time of the year.
Through Dec. 11 For tickets, call 414-278-0765 or visit nextact.org.