Next Theatre to open season with “Luce,” about adopted African boy

SHARE Next Theatre to open season with “Luce,” about adopted African boy

Keep your eye on a young actor named Jerry MacKinnon. It’s hard not to.

In the Steppenwolf for Young Adults production of Deborah Zoe Laufer’s “Leveling Up” he played Chuck, the sweet, bright, funny, almost twentysomething who initiates his house-mate’s girlfriend into the world of video games in a seduction scene of enormous charm and wit. Most recently, in Ike Holter’s “Exit Strategy” — a long-running hit for Jackalope Theatre — he played Donnie, a super-smart and rebellious CPS high school senior hellbent on preventing his school from being shut down.

Now, MacKinnon (photo above) will star in J.C. Lee’s play, “Luce,” which will receive its Midwest premiere at Evanston’s Next Theatre, 927 Noyes. The production, directed by Keira Fromm (who did such a superb job with last season’s “Charles Ives Take Me Home” at Strawdog Theatre), is a socially explosive drama that examines matters of privilege and politics through the lens of a well-meaning white couple (played by Amy Carle and Coby Goss), and their relationship with Luce (played by MacKinnon), the now adolescent child they adopted from a war-torn African country. It asks: Is Luce a star student, a sociopath or “a little of each”?

When Luce, now an all-star high school student on the fast track to achieving “the American dream,” is confronted by his parents about a secret that has been disclosed, they must reconcile their idealized image of their son to who he may really be. Also in the cast are Tyla Abercrombie and Erica Murphy.

For tickets to “Luce,” the opening production of Next Theatre’s 34th season, call (847) 475-1875 or visit

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