Buddeke & D'Ambrosio Are McNally's Frankie and Johnny in DC

News   Buddeke & D'Ambrosio Are McNally's Frankie and Johnny in DC Kate Buddeke, the blowsy Mazeppa in the recent Broadway Gypsy, is paired with Los Angeles actor Vito D'Ambrosio in Arena Stage's new production of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, beginning Feb. 23.

Terrence McNally's two-actor play about romance between two unglamorous people plays in Arena's Kreeger Theater through April 8, in Washington, DC. David Muse (associate director of Shakespeare Theatre Company) directs.

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"Celebrated playwright Terrence McNally (Love! Valor! Compassion!, Master Class) delivers a bittersweet play about the forging of a relationship between two lonely mid-life lovers," according to Arena. "Johnny, a short-order cook in a diner, goes home with Frankie, a waitress, for a one-night stand. Johnny desperately tries to crack Frankie's hardened heart before she sends him home, and they lose their chance at love."

Opening night is March 1. The gritty Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune contains adult themes, nudity and strong language.

The play premiered in 1987 at Off-Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club with Kathy Bates and Kenneth Welsh in the title roles, and was revived on Broadway in 2002 with Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci, earning two Tony nominations for Best Revival and Best Actor in a Play. A 1991 film starred Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino. Buddeke (Frankie) returns to Arena Stage where she last performed in Tom Walker and Dancing at Lughnasa (Helen Hayes nomination). A Chicago native, she is a member of American Theater Company, and the recipient of five Joseph Jefferson Awards for acting in such productions as Ourselves Alone, Dancing at Lughnasa, Gypsy, David's Mother and Keely & Du. Broadway credits include the Tony Award-winning Carousel, Death of a Salesman, Gypsy (portraying Mazeppa with Bernadette Peters) and A Streetcar Named Desire. Off-Broadway credits include Mill Fire and Bug (in which she originated the role of Agnes in the A Red Orchid Theater production in Chicago).

Vito D'Ambrosio (Johnny) makes his Arena Stage debut with this production. Living in Los Angeles, he appeared on stage in The Great Sebastians, Idiot's Delight, Confessions of a Robot (a one-man show by Rafael Bunuel), The Inspector General, King Lear and Two Gentlemen of Verona. D'Ambrosio was born in Italy and moved to Chicago at the age of ten. He attended Columbia College where he first met Kate Buddeke and also worked with the founding members of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. At Steppenwolf, he performed in Streamers, Tracers, Fool for Love (replacing William L. Peterson) and Three Sisters. He also appeared in Riverview and Moby Dick at The Goodman Theatre.

Stephen Schnetzer lends his voice as the Radio Announcer.

The creative team includes Neil Patel (set designer), Nancy Schertler (lighting designer), T. Tyler Stumpf (costume designer), Daniel Baker (sound designer), Clarence Coo (production dramaturg), Robb Hunter (fight choreographer), Amy K. Bennett (stage manager).

For more information, visit www.arenastage.org.