The Araca Group, the producing team behind Broadway's Urinetown, is still planning on a late-summer or early fall start for its Broadway revival of Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, starring Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci.
An Araca spokesman confirmed April 10 that the stars are lined up, but there's a waiting game for an available theatre. The three Araca partners, Matthew Rego, Michael Rego and Hank Unger, were planning to bring the two-character McNally play — about less-than-glamorous New Yorkers tentatively connecting — to Broadway in the spring, but the stars' schedules did not allow for it. The Belasco had been previously mentioned as a possible nest, but the Simon Callow vehicle, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, is settling into that house.
"In coordinating our two stars' schedules," co-producer Michael Rego of the Araca Group told Playbill On-Line in late 2001, "we realized we ultimately couldn't start rehearsals until July." Asked why not wait until the fall season kicks in, after September, Rego said, "We wanted to get in as soon as possible. The sooner we start, the longer we get to keep [Falco and Tucci]."
A reading of the play, with Falco and Tucci, was done in fall 2001. Designers will include John Lee Beatty (set), Kenneth Posner (lighting), Scott Lahr (sound) and Laura Bauer (costumes). Joe Mantello, a McNally veteran (Love! Valour! Compassion!, Corpus Christi) will direct. Recent years have seen author McNally concentrate on gay themes (Corpus Christi, L!V!C!, The Lisbon Traviata) and libretti for big Broadway musicals (Ragtime, The Full Monty), but one of his earlier hits was this somewhat old-fashioned love story: Middle-aged boy meets plain-jane girl and, despite mutual wounds that haven't healed, romance ensues.
Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune originally played the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1987, and starred Kenneth Welsh and a pre-"Misery" Kathy Bates. Later couples would include Carol Kane and Bruce "Hill Street Blues" Weitz, and Bonnie Franklin and Tony Musante. The show would run 533 performances. The 1991 movie version, "Frankie and Johnny," was well-received, though some critics noted that stars Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer were a tad too glamorous to play a short-order cook and a waitress.
Tucci rose quickly through the Off-Broadway ranks (Scapin) to become a film star ("Big Night"); just before "The Sopranos" made her an offer she couldn't refuse, Falco created the role of Terry in the Tony Award-winning Side Man.