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A CurtainUp Review
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
This isn't small talk. This is enormous talk
Johnny
Stanley Tucci and  Edie Falco
Stanley Tucci and Edie Falco
When I went to see a revival of Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune at the Miniature Theatre in Chester five years ago, it was to see if Terrence McNally's touching story of two losers who find each other held up. It did, and while it featured no big name stars, the production did honor to the play. Now, the play has returned to Broadway for one of those carefully calculated to succeed financially limited runs thanks to the box office draw of its stars.

I'm pleased to report that this Marty-like romance (The TV and film classic which is also scheduled to be revived on Broadway) is still Broadway worthy. Edie Falco, who besides her famous role in The Sopranos sticks in my memory as the terrific original mother in Warren Leight's Sideman, and Stanley Tucci are as well-matched and memorable a couple as you're likely to see on any stage. That's with or without their clothes on -- and, those who object to nudity should be aware, that those clothes are definitely missing a good several minutes.

The original production which starred Kathy Bates and F. Murray Abraham ran for 533 performances but, as is typical with plays featuring actors with busy film and television careers, the current production is limited so don't wait too long to get your tickets.

Under Joe Mantello 's able direction the story of Frankie and Johnny builds gradually but steadily towards its emotionally charged climax, with glimpses of small, telling character details along the way. The chemistry between Falco and Tucci is electric and the dialogue as crisp literate, funny and poignant as ever. John Lee Beatty has replicated a rundown apartment and Brian MacDevitt's lighting subtly shows the changes in time. Lines like ""I'm sick of living this way--like we're all going to die from each other" resonate as sharply as ever.

The lovely Debussy score adds to the romantic mood of this modern fairy tale about a waitress scarred by an abusive relationship and a short-order cook with a past that includes jail and a failed marriage. This coming together of two damaged souls personifies the possiblity that a one-night stand can metamorphose into a real and soul-healing relationship..

For more plot details see my review of the Berkshire revival.

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
Written by Terrence McNally
Directed by Joe Mantello
Cast: Edie Falco and Stanley Tuccie
Set Design: John Lee Beatty
Costume Design: Laura Bauer
Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt
Sound Design: Scott Lehrer
Running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St. (Broadway/8th Av), 212- 239-6200
8/08/02- 12/29/02; opening 8/08/02
. Tue - Sat at 8pm; Wed & Sat at 2pm; Sun at 3pm -- $35 - $75.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on August 13th performance.

The show continued with a second cast-- Rosie Perez and Joe Pantellano -- closing 3/09/03
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