Loving Them: Melissa Errico and Judy Kuhn, Women of Passion, Sing From the Heart

By Harry Haun
08 Feb 2013

Judy Kuhn
Errico is delighted that the role of Clara finally gets her back to her Italian roots. "Yes," she says, running her hand across a wild tangle of pitch-black hair, "all this hair is invited to the show. Off-Broadway style: we don't wear wigs. They cast me for my hair. I'm cheaper than buying a wig for some straight-haired redhead."

The real thing that connects her to the role is the one thing that disconnects her from Giorgio. "What draws me to the part — and what I have to bring to it — is something I didn't remember when I first saw the show: Clara is a mother. She has a small child. I have three. I'm at that place in life where I'm using my maturity and sense of responsibility. [Clara is] having an affair because she's lonely in her marriage, but she's not able to leave her family life. This responsibility to the child keeps her from completely loving Giorgio as Fosca does — unedited, unnegotiated.

"I hope the audience feels Clara's loneliness and what it is to be a mother and still have a sexual self. It's a complicated process, though. I've already told some of my 'mom friends' that I'm playing a mother who's having an affair, and nearly all of them said, 'Oh, I can't wait to come' because people have these secret desires. Motherhood really makes them secret because you have a love and an instinct for that child above your own needs."

Because Clara and Giorgio are separated geographically for most of the play, their love scenes turn into love letters. There is a particularly sensual passage that Errico says she looks forward to singing every night:

"I close my eyes, imagining that you are there,
Imagining your fingers touching mine,
Imagining our room,
The bed, the secrecy, the world outside,
Your mouth on mine…"

Absence, it seems, makes the heart hot and bothered. If that's not passion, what is?

(This feature appears in the February 2013 Off-Broadway edition of Playbill magazine.)