Producer Larry Kaye on the Broadway-bound ‘The Velocity of Autumn,’ & Molly Smith’s Broadway Directorial Debut

It was announced today that Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons and Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Spinells will be starring in Eric Coble’s new play The Velocity of Autumn and Arena Stage’s Molly Smith will be directing in Spring 2013.

Producer Larry Kaye. Photo courtesy of HOP Theatricals.

Local Producer Larry Kaye struck gold when he decided to produce Eric Coble’s play The Velocity of Autumn on Broadway this coming Spring. And what a cast he has assembled – Broadway legend Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella. And the big news for DC area theatregoers is that Arena Stage at The Mead Center for American Theater’s Artistic Director Molly Smith will be making her Broadway directorial debut.

I am thrilled for my friends Larry and Eric. I reported on their new musical The Tapioca Miracle when I was writing my Theatre Schmooze column at DC Theatre Scene and I look forward to continue writing about it and covering The Velocity of Autumn for DC Metro Theater Arts.

Producer Larry Kaye shares his excitement:

“I had been acquainted with Eric Coble’s work for more than a decade, and had often asked him to send me copies of his plays to read. When he sent me The Velocity of Autumn, I was so moved by his exploration of the two characters. I had never seen this 80-year old woman depicted on stage before. It was a totally new take on the issues of aging, loss of independence and family.

When I read the play, one of the first directors of whom I thought was Molly Smith.  She’s such a fine director, with a really heightened ability to delve into the complex relationships between people. I am really thrilled that she’ll be making her Broadway debut with Velocity.

I am so pleased as well to be working with Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella.  I have been longtime admirers of their work. Both are fierce actors and will bring an incredible energy and intelligence to these roles. Estelle came down to Washington several months ago to do a reading of the play, and even in her early exploration of the role, she attacked the role in a way I have not witnessed before in any other reading I have seen.”

From Wayne Wolfe, The Hartman Group:

The 90-minute powder keg dramatic comedy about a woman’s anarchic cry for freedom will mark the Broadway debut of playwright Eric Coble. THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN is produced by HOP Theatricals. Broadway theater and dates to be announced.

David Hansen as Chris and Dorothy Silver as Alexandra begin a long, reflective conversation at the beginning of ‘The Velocity of Autumn.’ at Cleveland’s Beck Center for The Arts. Photo by Kathy Sandham.

THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN swirls around 80-year-old Alexandra, an artist facing the indignities of old age and her family’s insistence on moving her to a nursing home. With nothing to lose, Alexandra has locked herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with a pile of Molotov cocktails and is now in a standoff with her children and the police. When Alexandra is visited by her youngest son Chris – who has climbed into her second floor window ending a 20-year absence from her life – in the blink of an eye the emotional bombs start detonating.

THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN had its world premiere at Boise Contemporary Theater in Idaho in April 2011, and played to sold out audiences in Cleveland’s Beck Center for the Arts in Ohio in April 2012.

THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN has scenic design by Eugene Lee, costume design by Linda Cho, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Darron L. West, casting by Geoff Josselson, marketing by aka and general management by AWA Management Services/ Mark Shacket.

BIOGRAPHIES

Estelle Parsons. Photo by Aubrey Reuben.

ESTELLE PARSONS (Alexandra) is currently appearing on Broadway in Nice Work If You Can Get It.  She recently received rave reviews for Marco Calvani’sThings Of This World directed by Neil LaBute at LaMama. Recently she played Dottie in David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People at Manhattan Theater Club, the Dutch psychic in Deathtrap with Simon Russell Beale in London, after having spent a year on Broadway and a year on tour with August: Osage County.  Upon her arrival in New York City from Marblehead, Massachusetts, she was one of eight people who put together the NBC Today show on national television and became the first woman to do political reporting for a television network.  Ms. Parsons made her Broadway debut with Ethel Merman in Happy Hunting and proceeded with starring roles in, among others, Miss Margarida’s Way which started at Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre and introduced the first Brazilian playwright to Broadway. …And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little, The Seven Descents Of Myrtle, The Norman Conquests and Morning’s At Seven. She introduced Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s feminist work to American audiences. She won an Academy Award for Bonnie And Clyde and was nominated for a second Oscar for Paul Newman’s Rachel, Rachel. She has made thirteen other films. Jerry Herman’sNightcap launched her varied night club career. She did two Julius Monk revues at Upstairs at the Downstairs before joining Lotte Lenya in The Three Penny Operaand playing Widow Begbick in the American premiere of Mahagonny. On television, she played Roseanne’s Mother on “Roseanne” for ten years. She appeared in “All In The Family,” “Archie’s Place,” “The UFO Incident,” and “Empire Falls,” among others. She was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2004.

Stephen Spinella. Photo courtesy of Playbill.com.

STEPHEN SPINELLA (Chris) won two Tony and two Drama Desk Awards for the original Broadway productions of Tony Kushner’s epic Angels in America plays, directed by George C. Wolfe; he was honored for playing the role of Prior Walter in both the first part (Millennium Approaches) which marked his Broadway debut and the second (Perestroika). Other Broadway credits include A View from the Bridge, Electra, James Joyce’s The Dead (Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards, Tony Nomination), Our Town and Spring Awakening. Mr. Spinella’s Off-Broadway credits include The Illusion, Love! Valour! Compassion (Obie Award), Troilus and Cressida, A Question of Mercy, The Seagull, Elle, Svejk, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, An Iliad (Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards, Drama Desk Nomand As You Like It.  His film work includes Virtuosity, The Jackal, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Great Expectations, Ravenous, Cradle Will Rock, Bubble Boy, Connie and Carla, Milk, Rubber and Steven Spielberg’s soon to be released feature Lincoln.  Mr. Spinella’s TV credits include “The Education of Max Bickford”, “24”, “Desperate Housewives”, “ER”, “Alias”, “Will and Grace”, “Numb3rs”, “Heroes”, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Mentalist”.  A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he studied with Olympia Dukakis and Ron Van Lieu, Mr. Spinella also attended the University of Arizona.

Playwright Eric Coble. Photo courtesy of Eric’s website.

ERIC COBLE (Playwright) Mr. Cobles’s plays have been produced Off-Broadway, throughout the U.S., and on several continents, including productions at The Kennedy Center, Denver Center Theatre Company, New York and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, Alliance Theatre, The Cleveland Play House, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, Asolo Repertory, Indiana Repertory, Coterie Theatre, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Stages Repertory, and The Contemporary American Theatre Festival.  His plays include Bright Ideas(Manhattan Class Company, directed by John Rando), Natural Selection (Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, directed by Marc Masterson), The Dead Guy, A Girl’s Guide to Coffee, and The Giver. Mr. Coble has been recognized for his work with an Emmy nomination, the AT&T Onstage Award, the National Theatre Conference Playwriting Award, the AATE Distinguished Play Award for Best Adaptation, an NEA Playwright in Residence Grant, and a TCG Extended Collaboration Grant.

Director Molly Smith. Photo courtesy of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.

MOLLY SMITH (Director) has been instrumental in leading the reinvention of Arena Stage, focusing on the creation of the new Mead Center for American Theater as well as major artistic changes. Arena Stage is a center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater. Ms. Smith has been a leader in new play development for 30 years while at Arena Stage for the past 14 years and at Perseverance Theatre in Alaska, the theater she founded and led for 19 years. She is a great believer in first, second and third productions of new work and has championed projects like Next to NormalHow I Learned to Drive and Passion Play, a cycle. Ms. Smith has directed for Arena Stage Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, How I Learned to Drive, Hot ‘N’ Throbbing, All My Sons, The Great White HopeCoyote Builds North AmericaAgamemnon and His DaughtersA Moon for the Misbegotten, South PacificAn American DaughterCamelot, Orpheus Descending, Anna ChristiePassion Play, a cycleDamn Yankees, Cabaret, The Women of Brewster PlaceChristmas Carol 1941, Legacy of Light,Light in the Piazza, Oklahoma!, The Book Club Play, and The Music Man. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Tim Acito, Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, James Magruder, Barry Lopez and many others.  Ms. Smith’s directorial work has also been seen at the Shaw Festival in Canada, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, Tarragon Theatre in Toronto and Centaur Theatre in Montreal.

HOP THEATRICALS (Producer) and lead producer Larry Kaye have been nominated for two Tony Awards for How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying with Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette, and for Green Day’s American Idiot.  Other productions with which HOP and Mr. Kaye have been involved include Broadway’s Oleanna with Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles, and Blithe Spiritwith Angela Lansbury, as well as Rooms Off-Broadway, and Pippin at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory.  Upcoming projects include a Broadway revival of Beth Henley’s The Miss Firecracker Contest and the new Broadway-bound musical The Tapioca Miracle.

LINKS
Eric Coble’s website.
HOP Theatricals website.
Estelle Parsons interview on appearing in ‘Nice Work if You Can Get It.’
The Tapioca Miracle website.
Pudding it Together.
Following The Tapioca Miracle.
The Tapioca Miracle Hits the Big Apple

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