Though buoyed by its star actress, Frances Sternhagen, and a good review in the New York Times, The Exact Center of the Universe will close May 2 at Off-Broadway's WPP Theater Four, after 8 previews and 27 regular performances. Joan Vail Thorne's comedy began previews March 30 and opened April 7 for a run through this weekend (extended a week past a previously announced April 25 end).
A week earlier, the speculation seemed to be that Universe might extend further into May, but a show spokesperson told Playbill On-Line the producers, Women's Project and Productions (who recently purchased Theater Four), "weren't really set up" for commercial runs of productions. There are rumors the show may surface commercially in the fall, but those are just speculative at this point.
Directing Universe is John Tillinger, who's had a busy year: Getting and Spending and Broadway's current Night Must Fall.
Sternhagen, who has won two Tonys over her long career, plays Vada Love Powell, a matriarch from the Deep South whose small world is rocked when her son, Apple, marries without her consent. Among Sternhagen's most recent credits is the award-winning Lincoln Center Theatre revival of The Heiress starring Cherry Jones.
Joining her on stage as her son is Reed Birney, whose varied career has included such productions -- on Broadway, Off and Off-Off -- as Gemini, The Common Pursuit, The Family of Mann and Seven Blowjobs. Also in the cast are Bethel Leslie, Marge Redmond and Tracy Thorne. For information on The Exact Center of the Universe, call (212) 239-6200.
Next up for WPP, mid-June, will be "Tandem Acts," two evenings of new works developed by the company's Playwrights' Lab and Directors' Forum. -- By Robert Simonson and David Lefkowitz