St. James Theatre, (2/10/1980 - 3/09/1980)

First Preview: Feb 05, 1980
Opening Date: Feb 10, 1980
Closing Date: Mar 09, 1980
Total Previews: 7
Total Performances: 33

Category: Play, Revival, Broadway
Description: a Neapolitan play
Setting: Domenico Soriano's house in Naples, Italy. 1946.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Jujamcyn Theaters (under the direction of Richard G. Wolff, President)

Produced by Danny O'Donovan and Helen Montagu; Produced in association with Mecca Productions

An Original Production by Franco Zeffirelli

Written by Eduardo De Filippo; English Version by Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse

Directed by Laurence Olivier; Assistant Director: Larry Forde

Scenic Design by Raimonda Gaetani; Costume Design by Raimonda Gaetani; Lighting Design by Thomas Skelton; Hair Design by Bobby Abbott

General Manager: Theatre Now, Inc., William Court Cohen, Edward H. Davis, Norman E. Rothstein and Ralph Roseman; Company Manager: Terence Erkkila; Associate Gen. Mgr: Charlotte W. Wilcox

Production Stage Manager: Larry Forde; Stage Manager: Robert Rigamonti; Assistant Stage Mgr: Dorie DonVito

Casting: Julie Hughes and Barry Moss; General Press Representative: Seymour Krawitz; Press Representative: Patricia Krawitz; Advertising: Serino, Coyne & Nappi; Photographer: Martha Swope; Speech Consultant: Edith Skinner

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Opening Night Cast

Frank FinlayDomenico Soriano
Joan PlowrightFilumena Marturano
Miriam PhillipsRosalia Solimene
Ernest SarracinoAlfredo Amoroso
Dennis BoutsikarisUmberto
Donna DavisDiana
Pierre EpsteinPasquale Nocella
Peter IacangeloMichele
Bill KarnovskySecond Waiter
Gabor MoreaFirst Waiter
Lisa PasseroLucia
the maid
Stephen SchnetzerRiccardo

Standby: Lou Bedford (Domenico Soriano) and Bernice Massi (Filumena Marturano)

Understudies: Dorie DonVito (Diana, Lucia), Nina Dova (Rosalia Solimene), Bill Karnovsky (Michele, Riccardo), Gabor Morea (Alfredo Amoroso, Pasquale Nocella) and Robert Rigamonti (First Waiter, Second Waiter, Umberto)


New York Daily News: "An old story, cheerfully told"

"Filumena," which came to the St. James last night, is an old rooster of a play still trying to crow, a creaky sentimental comedy contrivance that nevertheless furnishes a fairly diverting evening thanks to a canny production boasting strong performances and skillful direction.

Every turn of this vintage Eduardo De Filippo play, in a new English adaptation, is predictable even to those unfamiliar with the 1964 Sophia Loren-Marcello Mastroianni movie "Marriage, Italian Style," or an earlier Broadway version that enjoyed only three performances in 1956 under the title "The Best House in Naples." But it is the strain on our theatergoers' credulity rather than its predictability that taxes the patience from time to time.

Joan Plowright, recreating the role she performed for a couple of seasons in London, plays a onetime brothel inmate named Filumena who for the past quarter of a century has been serving as chatelaine for her most devoted client, Domenico, a rich Naples confectioner, a white-haired bantam who refuses to act his age. Now (the time is 1946), having pretended to be on her deathbed, she has gotten her protector to summon a priest and make an honest woman of her, and the play opens with Domenico in a towering rage, for Filumena has leapt out of bed immediately following the ceremony.

Of the numerous complications that follow, the most important is her revelation that she has produced three sons, all grown men now in different lines of work, and that one of them is Domenico's. She, of course, refuses to identify him, and Domenico has the marriage annulled on grounds of duplicity. But over the next 10 months he repents, and all ends happily.

The plot developments are paid out gradually and in such a way as to produce climaxes and curtain lines for each of the three acts, for this is, after all, an old-fashioned construction. Additional characters include, besides the three sons, Domenico's current young mistress (or "cow," as Filumena calls her); the latter's lawyer, a commedia dell'arte figure, and various servants.

Oddly, the statuesque Plowright, though she makes a forceful and even appealing Filumena, is a bit too resolutely British to be entirely suitable. The most telling performance is that of Frank Finlay as Domenico. Suave, vain, explosive and uncertain by turn, Finlay gives a marvelous account of a man being led by the nose all the time he thinks he is doing the leading. His Domenico alone is probably worth a visit.

The sons are nicely differentiated among Peter Iacangello as a stocky plumber with a growing family of his own; Stephen Schnetzeras as a sleek haberdasher who, like Domenico, enjoys playing the field; and Dennis Boutsikaris as an accountant and the most serious-minded of the three. Pierre Epstein is amusing as the comic lawyer, and Miriam Phillips is first-rate as Filumena's wise septuagenarian maid. Donna Davis as the unfortunate mistress and Ernest Sarracino as another elderly servant are also entertaining.

Laurence Olivier, who took over the direction from Franco Zeffirelli before the production came to Broadway, has staged it excellently, with a fine eye for detail, and not always the obvious one in such an obvious play.

Raimonda Gaetanihas designed a perfectly hideous but entirely authentic-looking high-ceilinged living room with lots of heavy furniture and a long lived-in look, and has also provided the exemplary costumes. Thomas Skelton has lighted the play suitably.

"Filumena" is a comedy that shows its age, dragging at times, but it is a cheerful enough piece of work and brought surprisingly close to life by a gifted cast and superb direction.

New York Daily News

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