NY's Blue Light Theatre Company keeps shining brighter and brighter, what with such names as director Joanne Woodward (Golden Boy) and actress Marisa Tomei (Waiting For Lefty) connected to recent projects. The company's latest, Filumena: A Marriage Italian Style, has struck a chord with audiences and has extended past its Dec. 7 close to Jan. 4, 1998. The show opened the Blue Light season, Nov. 6 after beginning previews Oct. 22.
Filumena is directed by Tony-winning Chicago actor, James Naughton. Eduardo DeFilippo's comedy has a new translation by Maria Tucci, who stars in the play and recently appeared Off-Broadway in Collected Stories. Tucci's previous roles include Kingdom and several Tennessee Williams revivals. Her adaptation of Filumena premiered as part of the Williamstown Theatre Festival (MA) in 1996.
Also cast in Filumena are Tony Amendola, Joe Grifasi, Lenny Venito, Dana Bledsoe, Melissa Bowen, Mary Fogarty, Greg Salata, Matt Saldivar and James's son (and Blue Light regular), Greg Naughton.
Director Naughton most recently directed Johnny On A Spot at MA's Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Filumena concerns the culmination of a 25-year-relationship between a powerful woman and the man she finally beguiles into marrying her. Under the title The Best House In Naples, DeFilippo's 1946 comedy played on Broadway in 1956. The material also served as the basis for the 1964 film, Marriage, Italian Style. Following Filumena will be Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, staged by actor/director Austin Pendleton. The original Broadway Motel Kamzoil in Fiddler On The Roof, Pendleton was Circle Repertory Theatre's last artistic director before the company closed its doors. (For an interview with Pendleton, conducted in February when he starred in an Off-Broadway Richard III, please see the feature story, "Austin Pendleton On Richard III.")
The last Broadway Seagull starred Tyne Daly and featured Laura Linney as Nina. Word has it the Blue Light company is in talks with a well-known stage and screen actress for Madame Arkadina. The show is set to run Jan. 19-March 15, 1998.
Already set for Amazing Grace, a new play by Michael Cristofer, is Marsha Mason, star of filmdom's Cinderella Liberty and The Goodbye Girl. Mason also appeared Off-Broadway in Love Letters in 1989.
Amazing Grace won the American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award after its premiere at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre in 1996. Interviewed in November 1996, when his The Blues Are Running played at Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage II space, Cristofer told Playbill On-Line that Grace is "a darker, less commercial piece than Blues, so Broadway is probably out of the question." Mason was already attached to the project at that point.
Cristofer won the Pulitzer for The Shadow Box, revived on Broadway in 1994 with Mercedes Ruehl. Amazing Grace runs April 1-May 24, 1998.
Founded in 1995 on the principal of "reinvestment," Blue Light Theatre Company "strives to give young working actors the opportunity to grow by working with established theatre artists."
For information about the Blue Light season, call (212) 265-8147.
--By David Lefkowitz