'The Velocity of Autumn' Is Broadway's First Tony Nominations Casualty

Joan Marcus
Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella in "The Velocity of Autumn"

After scoring a single mention for lead actress Estelle Parsons, Eric Coble's play about a feisty oldster threatening to blow up her Brooklyn brownstone will close Sunday, less than two weeks after opening.

NEW YORK -- A Tony nomination for Estelle Parsons couldn't save The Velocity of Autumn.

The serio-comedy by Eric Coble, about an elderly artist who refuses to go gently into a retirement facility, has announced a May 4 closing date, less than two weeks after it opened to tepid reviews.

Critics generally had praise for Oscar winner Parsons' performance as a woman barricaded inside her Brooklyn brownstone with a collection of Molotov cocktails, and for co-star Stephen Spinella as the estranged son who comes to negotiate on behalf of her family. But while most reviews agreed that the subject matter of aging and independence is rich in potential, the two-hander remains a somewhat feeble vehicle.

THEATER REVIEW: The Velocity of Autumn

Producers clearly had been holding out in hopes of snagging a best play nomination, but the writing has been on the wall for Velocity since it began performances during the busiest period of the Broadway calendar.

The production grossed a poor $135,307 in its first week on the boards and has been declining ever since, earning only $84,521 in the week that wrapped Sunday. A single nomination for Parsons is unlikely to impact box office, particularly during weeks when producers are required to provide a sizable number of free tickets to Tony voters and their guests.

Directed by Molly Smith and first presented at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., last fall, the play began previews at the Booth Theatre on April 1 and officially opened on April 21. When it closes, it will have played 22 previews and 16 regular performances.

Lead producers on the brief Broadway run are Larry Kaye & HOP Theatricals, Van Dean & The Broadway Consortium, Jan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Catherine & Fred Adler, Michael J. Moritz and KIRN Productions.