Not that Maria Callas would be her first diva. Actress Maria Tucci has already scored a Tony nomination for starring as the earthy Serafina in The Rose Tattoo, and -- before Uta Hagen headlined a commercial remount -- she played the caustic literary professor in Collected Stories at Manhattan Theatre Club. Still, Callas may be the biggest challenge of them all, especially as portrayed in Terrence McNally's drama, Master Class, which puts the legendary soprano front and center for nearly the entire show. No, this Callas doesn't sing, but she does reminisce, cajole, teach and harass three eager vocal students. Tucci is getting to do all of the above Feb. 12-March 19 at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse, where Master Class officially opens Feb. 16.
The actress has starred in countless stage productions over the years, including Filumena with the Blue Light Theatre Company and Drama Dept.'s The Thing with Feathers. She received another Tony nomination for Requiem For a Heavyweight and has worked at such regional venues as Long Wharf, Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Catching the brunt of her wrath as Callas will be Rebecca Eichenberger, Elijah Chester and Karen Kilroy, with Gary Green doing the honors as Manny the pianist. Designing the show are James Youmans (set), Michael Sharpe (costumes), Michael Lincoln (lighting) and Chris Bailey (sound).
Author McNally won the 1996 Tony for Master Class and has since gone on to pen Corpus Christi, the book for Ragtime and one of the one-act operas in City Opera's recent "Central Park" trilogy.
For tickets and information on Master Class at George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Ave. in New Brunswick, call (732) 246-7717. -- By David Lefkowitz