The brother and sister who lord majestically over the Spartan garden where Triumph of Love takes place turn out to be played by a highly improbable pair of Texans Betty Buckley of Fort Worth and F. Murray Abraham of El Paso. Who knew?
"No matter how many times I tell people I'm from Texas, they forget it immediately," admits Abraham, who's bonding up a storm with Buckley. "Betty's taken me under her wing. She knows her musical stage, and she's nursing me through it." Excluding some children's musicals, this is only his second musical. The other had a Texas connection as well (via its authors): The Fantasticks. "That was my first legitimate show in New York it was about, oh, 27 years ago and I wound up playing both fathers, the old actor and the Indian."
His face allows him that kind of latitude; he loves running from peasant to ruler and back again. The upswing of this personally amuses him: "It's funny to come from a border town, speaking Spanish fluently, hanging out with part of a rat pack, ending up behaving like a king." He was so convincing a presence at court in the movie of Amadeus that he won an Oscar. Recently he did King Lear at The Public and Stalin (in Children of the Revolution). "And don't forget Cyrano!"
Nationalistically, he's hard to nail down. "I've played a pretty wide spectrum more Jews, I'd say, than anything else, but that's partly the name." His father turns out to be Syrian and his mother Italian. That division is why he opted for the initial in his name: "The F. is Federico for the Italians and Fehrid for the Syrians."