Frankie and Johnny were lovers.
Oh, what a sad-funny fling;
If they lock Falco and Tucci
They'll be at at the Belasco next spring...
The Araca Group, producers behind the risky (and so far, quite successful) move of Urinetown from Off-Off-Broadway to Broadway's Henry Miller Theatre, are now eyeing a more mainstream Broadway launch for this spring. As reported in mid-November, the company intends to revive Terrence McNally's 1987 hit, Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, with Stanley Tucci and Edie Falco as the unlikely lovers.
Hopes are for a limited run at the Belasco this spring, assuming Tucci's movie schedule and Falco's commitment to HBO's "The Sopranos" can be worked out. As of Dec. 12, a Boneau/Bryan-Brown production spokesperson confirmed that the intention was still to bring the play in this season, though an announcement of definitive plans is still a month or so away.
Araca co-producer Michael Rego told Playbill On-Line Nov. 15, "We did a reading a couple of weeks ago, and they loved it, so we're all working diligently to iron out schedules and try to make this happen. Terrence [McNally] is thrilled, especially with these two doing it."
The show will likely have a typical Broadway play capitalization ($1-2 million range, depending on length of run). Designers will include John Lee Beatty (set), Brian MacDevitt (lighting) and Laura Bauer (costumes). Joe Mantello, a McNally veteran (L!V!C!, Corpus Christi) who had been set to stage a now-postponed revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical Assassins, will direct. Recent years have seen author McNally concentrate on gay themes (Corpus Christi, Love! Valour! Compassion!, 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 opened Oct. 13, 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 anhedonic 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 Side Man.
— By David Lefkowitz