“Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” opens tonight at 8 p. m. at the Bridge, the “black box” stage at the Bridgehampton Community Center. It is being produced by the Hamptons International Theater Festival and the Naked Stage.
First produced in 1987 Off-Broadway, it is considered one of Terrence McNally’s finest plays, a boy-meets-girl story with a theatrical twist. Both middle-aged, Johnny, played in this production by Seth Hendricks, believes he has found his soul mate in Frankie (Rachel Feldman), while she is more than skeptical.
“It is the battle of wills, the battle of the sexes,” director Joshua Perl said Sunday. “It’s charming, and it’s funny,” he said.
It is also a wonderful vehicle for leading actors. The original production, directed by Paul Benedict at the Manhattan Theater Club, starred F. Murray Abraham and Kathy Bates. When it was revived for Broadway in 2002, in a production directed by Joe Mantello at the Belasco Theater, Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci starred.
Mr. Perl and Mr. Hendricks have been looking for a project to work on together and this one seemed amazingly timely.
Written at the dawn of the modern personal electronics era, Mr. McNally foresaw growing isolationism and alienation as the counter-intuitive product of technology.
“The play tells us that we should have faith,” Mr. Perl says. “Inside of people is something that needs to be touched. Even though they’re in their 40s,” Mr. Perl said, “and are told constantly, ‘You missed your chance,’ that is not the case. The play is about what we can be if we believe in ourselves, as opposed to what we’re told we can do.”
Mr. Perl promises a theatrical treat for the audience, starting with the black box set designed by Peter Tolin-Baker. The audience will sit around a New York City studio apartment, looking through the walls as the title couple find their way.
Ms. Feldman, who was in last season’s production of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” at Guild Hall, came on board via the audition process. The two actors, Mr. Perl said, “have an incredible chemistry.”
This production runs through Oct. 26, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at fandj.eventbrite.com.