Terrence McNally’s Tony Award Nominated play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune lays both hearts and souls bare in a classic two hander.
Acclaimed actor Colette Mann is in the process of directing McNally’s richly textured text with two of Australia’s finest and award winning actors: Kate Kendall (Neighbours, Stings Conspiracy 365) as Frankie and actor director Damien Richardson (Jack Irish, City Homicide, Wentworth, Neighbours) as Johnny.
For Mann, this project has been on a gentle simmer for about 20 years. She explains: “I was talking to Jackie Weaver about stuff and she mentioned it as a play she would like to do- so I bought and read it –in the hopes that if she didn’t do it I might. But the time and the Johnny never eventuated. Then I started Neighbours in 2012, and rekindled my friendship with Kate Kendall and knew that she was right to play Frankie. Then last year they cast Damien Richardson as my on screen son- and after a few days with him, I knew I had found my Johnny. And the rest is, as they say…..”
History, indeed, as synchronicity is not only a big theme in the play but has played a major part in the realization of the production. The play explores that one chance to connect with someone and not letting that slip past – serendipity indeed for Frankie, Johnny and Mann!
McNally has earned the title of one of theatre’s most important playwrights today. His plays – Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class, have won the Tony Award for best play. His interest in exploring relationships in a truthful, brave and sometimes shocking way a trademark. For Mann, the characters are so beautifully drawn but incredibly flawed. “Frankie is carrying baggage and so is Johnny but it is the stunning way that Terrence McNally combines their suitcases of pain and turns them into hilarious comedy and heartbreaking drama. I love this text!!!!!”
Mann had directed a long time ago and was eager to throw her director’s cap back in the ring but with her regular Neighbours gig since 2012, and other commitments, her life had become a working actor’s utopia.
“The life of an actor is a perilous one and I just kept being offered work as an actor or personality and so the opportunity just never came up, says Mann. “Doing Neighbours and teaching and a bit of writing kept me busy. Then one night I just thought –time for a change- and working with Kate and Damien reignited the passion to direct and they have been a joy!”
Mann has been a staple on our TV’s since about 1979 when she created Doreen Burns in Prisoner. She has been a working actor in both TV and stage mediums but which does she prefer: “I always prefer the one I am NOT doing at the time. Weird huh? But I am lucky enough to be doing both at the minute. Exhausting ? Yes it is but oh so wonderful. I am hoping the next play I produce I can act in but I won’t direct that one. I am no Clint Eastwood.”
McNally’s play explores love and lose, wanting and needing and touches on domestic violence and its long term effects. But one of its most important messages is that we cannot and should not hold onto the past.
Mann encourages everyone to:”… come and see two Australian actors at the height of their powers, perform in an extraordinary play that is beautifully written and hopefully adequately directed by me. IT is 105 minutes of passion lust , love, hilarity and a life lesson – what more could you want for $40?”
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
November 12 – 29