Helen Hayes Theatre, (5/06/1979 - 9/16/1979)

First Preview: Apr 27, 1979
Opening Date: May 06, 1979
Closing Date: Sep 16, 1979
Total Previews: 10
Total Performances: 154

Category: Play, Original, Broadway
Setting: The River Street Recreation Center in Hoboken, New Jersey. Winter-Spring of 1948.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Operated by Lester Osterman

Produced by Bill Sargent; Presented by SEE Theatre Network

Written by Louis La Russo II

Directed by Frank Corsaro

Scenic Design by Karl Eigsti; Costume Design by Jane Greenwood; Lighting Design by Neil Peter Jampolis; Hair Design by Phyllis Della

General Manager: Soloway / Francis; Company Manager: Steven Suskin; Executive Producer: Norman Maibaum

Production Stage Manager: Jack Gianino; Assistant Stage Mgr: Brad Gordon and Shyler Nepveux

General Press Representative: Seymour Krawitz; Press Representative: Louise Weiner Ment and Patricia McLean Krawitz; Advertising: Diener / Hauser / Bates & Co., Inc.; Fight Consultant: Jose Torres; Assistant to Mr. Torres: Danny Aiello III

Opening Night Cast

Danny AielloDamie Ruffino
Michael AroninSonny Vincent
Frank BongiornoChamp Sella
David Patrick KellyMac
Edward O'NeillPaddy Klonski
Janet SarnoGracie
Margaret WarnckeKay

Understudies: Brad Gordon (Mac), Edward Horre, Jr. (Sonny Vincent), Carolyn Lenz (Kay), Eddie Miller (Champ Sella), Jeanne Napoli (Gracie), Erik Sonne (Paddy Klonski) and Lou Tiano (Damie Ruffino)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1979 Best Scenic Design [nominee] 

Karl Eigsti


New York Daily News: "'Knockout' is punchy but silly"

"Knockout," last night's play at the Hayes, is so dumb it should be a movie. As a matter of fact, it practically is, if we can believe reports that it's scheduled to be filmed in a couple of days. Beyond that, it's a compendium of all the fight movies you've ever seen, replete with most of the cliches of the genre.

It is, in addition, a vehicle for Danny Aiello, an extremely engaging and convincing performer of good-natured slobs, as he has previously demonstrated in the plays "Gemini" and, before that, "Lamppost Reunion," the latter by the author of last evening's curiosity, Louis La Russo II.

Aiello plays Damie Ruffino, a one-time heavyweight now proprietor - it is 1948 and spring and love are just around the corner - of a grubby fight gym in Hoboken. He is training Sonny Vincent, a young light-heavy from the docks. To add color to this grimy place of business, dominated by a ring, there are Gracie, a bleached blond waitress from downstairs, a tough cookie with a heart of gold who keeps bringing up food and uttering malapropisms, and Mac, a sort of drunken Tiny Tim with an Irish soul full of fancies.

Into this quaint and seedy environment, with its lovable foul talk and friendly air, come Paddy Klonski, a sadistic and cocky heavyweight on his way up; his manager, Champ Sella, a wisened little man with big money in his eyes, and Kay, Paddy's ladylike English wife, acquired when Paddy was stationed in England during the war and mistreated ever since. Kay has eyes for Damie, and he for her, but Damie plays by the rules, and after much backing and filling the evening comes to an end with Paddy and Damie paired off in the ring and out of it as this grudge fight spills over onto the gym floor.

There's no need to tell you how things come out for the ex-prizefighter and the lady. This is Horatio Alger territory with dirty words and smart rejoinders ("You mad at me?" "Yeah, the way trees are mad at sunshine.")

Aiello almost makes you believe in the whole silly business, for you have the feeling he believes in it as he goes about his daily routine of handling gym equipment. He also handles the gloves convincingly in the fight scene, whose moves have been supervised by Jose Torres.

The others play their types exceedingly well, for the most part, the only one wholly lost being Margaret Warncke in the vapid, and actually objectionable, role of the battered British wife. Edward O'Neill, though he could do with some road work, is a thoroughly nasty villain, all smiles and ready to strike at the least incentive. Michael Aronin is amusing as the ambitious Sonny, who turns out to be the possessor of a glass jaw. Janet Sarno is a peppy Gracie, Frank Bongiorno a ratty but basically sympathetic manager, and David Patrick Kelly a pinched and forlorn Mac.

Frank Corsaro has staged this nonsense with commendable vigor and purpose, and Karl Eigsti's tall-ceilinged setting is wonderfully detailed and just the place for a good fight story. But despite the authenticity of its trappings and Aiello's honest and appealing performance, "Knockout" is just too dopey an example of its genre for even a satisfactory 1948 B-movie.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Helen Hayes Theatre

(5/6/1979 - 9/16/1979)


Judith McGilligan

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