Jeff Catanese and Cary Nichols met at Asheville Community Theatre almost four years ago when both were part of the ensemble that performed Noises Off on ACT’s Mainstage. They became fast friends based on their mutual respect for their acting skill and have since sought out opportunities to work together, most recently in 35below with Cary playing Jesse in ‘Night, Mother and Jeff directing said show.
Both Cary and Jeff are relishing the opportunity to explore and discover such richly-written characters in a way that actors of their caliber rarely get to appreciate. Two of the Asheville theater community’s best known and respected actors, they delve into the world of Frankie and Johnny with gusto, creating a world and mindset that audiences of a certain age will be sure to understand. Cary has said, “The process here, the finding all that there is to love about these two characters, has been one of the most satisfying of my theatrical career.” While Jeff added, “It’s rare that an actor has the opportunity to dive so deeply into a role. These roles are definitely worth that plunge.”
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is Terrence McNally’s much-lauded play which originally opened to rave reviews off-Broadway in 1987, starring F. Murray Abraham and Kathy Bates. In his review of that production, Frank Rich of the New York Times said the play “has the timeless structure of romantic comedies” and “[Frankie and Johnny is] a play that brings fresh illumination to the latest phases of that old lovers' moon.” The play was revived on Broadway in 2002, starring Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci.
The play focuses on two middle-aged people whose first date is coming to a close. Or is it? The sincere-but-over-bearing Johnny is certain he has found his soul mate, while the cautious Frankie keeps him at arm’s length, having been hurt before and in no hurry to be again. As the post-coital conversation unfolds, they begin to reveal themselves and move toward a new relationship, if only they can forget the “million reasons not to love each other.” The reference to "Clair de Lune" in the title refers to the piano suite by Debussy, which is a key plot element.
It should be noted that Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is suitable for mature audiences only and uses themes, staging and language that is not appropriate for a younger or unadventurous spectators. It is being billed as “a romantic comedy for grownups” and is part of 35below’s paradigm of bringing fresh and adult theatrical works into its charming black box studio. The show is perfect for established couples’ date nights and, despite its brutal honesty, makes for a terrific Valentine’s-season show.
The play will be directed by Dan J. Caffrey and stars Jeff Catanese and Cary Nichols. Lighting design will be by Abby Auman, with sound design by Rodney Smith, who will be stage managing.
Please call or e-mail for more information.
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