The new play “The Velocity of Autumn” was originally set to premiere on Broadway this spring, but the dark comedy will instead open in Washington, D.C. this fall in what is being called a pre-Broadway engagement.
The Washington production will be staged at Arena Stage September 6 – October 20. The play will star Academy Award-winner Estelle Parsons and Tony Award-winner Stephen Spinella. The Arena’s artistic director Molly Smith will direct the show. All three were previously connected with the Broadway version of the show.
Producer Larry Kaye said in an interview with the New York Times that the postponement of the Broadway run (which was announced last week) was due to his wanting to find “a theater suitable for the play and its intimate size.” He also said he still plans to bring it to Broadway.
“When we postponed the play for the spring we continued to plan to bring it to Broadway,” Kaye said in the interview. “This seems to be a terrific opportunity to work on the play with our two stars, and it will fit in perfectly with the Arena season.”
Smith also said the play was more suitable for a smaller venue.
“This is an intimate two-person play,” she said. “It demands a space where the audience can absolutely lean into the story and not see it from a distance… This is a play that needs to be seen in Washington and in New York. If all the pieces come together that would be wonderful. But it also needs to be the right theater.”
Here’s how producers describe the new play by Eric Coble:
In a simple Brooklyn brownstone, 79-year-old Alexandra lives a solitary existence with her fleeting memories and enough explosives to take down most of the block. At an impasse with her family over how she should spend her autumn years, Alexandra’s long-absent son enters as a most unlikely mediator, to try and save his mother’s life as much as his own. Funny and sweet, aching and revelatory, this perceptive play reveals both the fragility and ferocity of life. Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons (‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ ‘Roseanne’) and two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Spinella (Angels in America) make their Arena Stage debuts.