PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Edie Falco
By Harry Haun
The opposite of Domestic Goddess is what Edie Falco has displayed in her frequent forays — four, to date — on Broadway.
Setting the tone for things to come (and breaking a few sound barriers in the process) was the braying, abusive Terry in Warren Leight's Tony-winning Side Man, hammering her musician hubby into the ground with obscenities and capping them with ferocious door slams. She originated that role Off-Broadway to award-winning effect but had to relinquish it when she snagged the role of Carmela Soprano, the tough-hide Mafia wife of HBO's "The Sopranos." On her hiatus from the mob hit, she made her Broadway debut as Terry the Holy Terror in the commercial transfer of Side Man.
During that nine-year marriage to Tony Soprano and in her current Showtime stint as E.R. "Nurse Jackie," Falco has faithfully spent her time off doing New York theatre.
In 2002 she and Stanley Tucci played a waitress and short-order cook snatching a night of happiness in Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; in 2004 she and Brenda Blethyn formed a mother-daughter act by Marsha Norman, 'night, Mother, in which suicide looms to her like a happy ending.
These days her gloom is gilded by the silver-lining of playwright John Guare's eccentric wit in The House of Blue Leaves, which begins April 14 at the Walter Kerr Theatre. She's Bananas (as in "gone bananas"), the schizophrenic wife of a zookeeper, Artie Shaughnessy (Ben Stiller), who has slated her for the loony-bin so he can get on with his happily-ever-aftering with his impatient mistress, Bunny (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
Another happy domestic picture you're bringing to Broadway.
I think this is a wonderful role for you. Do you love it?
I tend to love these characters. They're confused and troubled and dear, so deeply dear, but something went awry, and the struggle that they have to find their way back has always been of great interest to me.
The domestic scene is really your battlefield, isn't it?
How did that happen? Was it something you deliberately went after?
And you're also a magnet for great roles.
Your director, David Cromer, has surrounded you and Ben and Jennifer with terrific support — Thomas Sadoski, Alison Pill, Mary Beth Hurt, Christopher Abbott, Halley Feiffer, Jimmy Davis, Tally Sessions, Susan Bennett. What has it been like working with these people?
Have you done comedy before?
I still laugh at your door slams in Side Man.
This particular kind of humor — what's the word? Guarian — is tilted, off-center, definitely not the standard issue.
Is that sort of comedy difficult for you to play?
I'm really looking forward to this show—a great cast, plus you.
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