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Elton John Doesn’t Need to See a Broadway Show to Produce It

If you ride the subway in New York City, or have even just ventured outside these past few weeks, it's been nearly impossible to miss the posters touting tonight's Broadway opening of Next Fall, a drama about an older atheist (Patrick Breen) and his hot hard-core Christian boyfriend (Patrick Heusinger — yes, Lord Marcus Beaton from Gossip Girl). Emblazoned on each ad are the words/imprimatur, “Elton John and David Furnish present ... " Which is why we were a bit shocked when, at last night's reception for the show, we learned that Sir Elton had only just seen Next Fall for the first time that evening. "Yeah, I [produced] it without seeing it,” Sir Elton told us. “I did it completely blind!”

He explained that he first became aware of the show when his husband, Furnish, went to see it at Playwrights Horizons with The Reader director Stephen Daldry. "He phoned me up after coming out of the theater and was just raving about it," said Sir Elton. "They decided it was going to come to Broadway, and they said, 'We need help as far as getting exposure, since none of the cast are household names. Would you be prepared to lend your name?' We said, 'Yeah, and if you need us to put up some money, we'll do that, too.' Because we think it's a fantastic project." With his Billy Elliot still running strong, and another stage project in development with Next Fall playwright Geoffrey Nauffts, Sir Elton is now a bona fide Broadway producer. "Yeah, never thought that would happen!" he laughed, than mused about what perk he should demand. "Maybe I can get a senior-citizen pass and get in free to matinees or something."

Photo: Patrick McMullan