PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: The Velocity of Autumn — Spunk, Spark and Boom!

By Harry Haun
22 Apr 2014


Buy this Limited Collector's Edition

He has also made some new theatre. "I have a couple of plays already finished and ready to go: A play called Southern Rapture has been optioned. It's a straight-ahead comedy about what happens in this mid-size city in the South when they try to do a production of Angels in America in the mid '90s. It's based on a true story. The other's called Fairfield. It's a dark comedy about an elementary school in a very progressive suburb where Black History Month goes horribly, horribly wrong."

Coble knew he'd found his Alexandra when he caught Parsons in August: Osage County. She put in a good year on Broadway as that demonic domestic goddess, then logged up another year on the road with the play. "I didn't feel that it took a lot out of me anymore than any other parts I've done," Parsons said. "It took a lot out of the audiences."

And it probably took a lot out of those nearest and dearest and physically closest to her. "I was a pretty miserable person all through August. I really was. I was, for me, abrasive and pretty nasty all the time in real life. I don't know why. I felt like I was an awful person. I couldn't be myself. That was what was pretty hard about that job.



"You're so much happier doing musicals than you are doing a play. I started out in musicals so I'm used to just hanging around all day, waiting for the night and taking care of myself. Plays are not as difficult as musicals physically — but emotionally... The Velocity of Autumn is a bit like that — but not so much... I'll try to be happy doing this, even though it's about death and dying."

This is her first time at the Booth, but she played its sister theatre, the Shubert, her second show out (the Feuer and Martin musical, Whoop-Up) back in '59 and remembered all 58 performances. "I've played the Shubert, but I've never played the Booth. The same architect [Henry B. Herts] designed both, but the Shubert was the incredible experience. When I went out there, it was like the audience was coming at you, and you had to entertain them to keep them from coming at you. They may have redone Lincoln Center, but when I work up there and in most theatres around the country today, it's, like, you have to push out there — 'Hello, where are you out there?' At the Shubert, it's, like, 'Whoa! Whoa! They're coming at me!'"

A letter from the right person to the right person got Parsons the pre-Barbara Walters job of reporter and Dave Garroway's girl Friday on "The Today Show" from 1952-56. She pursued her musical career in clubs and eventually Broadway.

Did her "Today Show" chores as a journalist get her into the Happy Hunting chorus as a journalist? "No. You have to sing for those musicals. I was on a chorus contract so it must have been my singing that got me the job. But when we were out of town, they kept giving me lines that belonged to another reporter. Lindsay — no, Crouse said to me, 'Oh, you're going to have a wonderful career. You're really special.'"

 Continued...