Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is a two-character play by Terrence McNally that was first performed off-Broadway in 1987.


The play focuses on two lonely, middle-aged people whose first date ends with their tumbling into bed. The two are in her one-room walk-up apartment in the west side of Manhattan. Johnny (originated by F. Murray Abraham), a short order cook, is in good physical condition; but Frankie (originated by Kathy Bates), a waitress, is frumpy, fat, and emotionally defined by her unattractiveness. Johnny is certain he has found his soul mate in Frankie. She, on the other hand, is far more cautious and disinclined to jump to conclusions and at first has written off the encounter as a one night stand. As the night unfolds, they slowly begin to reveal themselves to each other as they take tentative steps towards the possible start of a new relationship.

"Johnny calls the radio station to request the most beautiful music ever written... Claude Debussy's "Clair de lune"... floats onto the night air... Johnny, buoyant with love, beckons Frankie to join him at the window and to bask... in the clair de lune. It's a lovely moment..."[1]



The play opened Off-Broadway on June 2, 1987 at Stage II of the Manhattan Theatre Club, where it ran for two weeks. Directed by Paul Benedict, the original cast starred Kathy Bates and F. Murray Abraham.[2][3] On October 14, 1987 it opened at Stage I for a six-week run. Kenneth Welsh played the part of Johnny in the Stage I production.[2][3] On December 4, 1987 the play transferred to the Westside Theatre, and closed on March 12, 1989. Kathy Bates won a 1988 Obie Award and was nominated for a 1987-1988 Drama Desk Award.[4]


The play opened on Broadway on July 26, 2002 in previews, officially on August 8, 2002 at the Belasco Theatre.[5][6] Directed by Joe Mantello, the cast starred Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci.[5] The play closed on March 9, 2003 after 243 performances and 15 previews.[6] Rosie Perez and Joe Pantoliano were replacements as of January 2003.[7] The performers had an extended period of nudity in the first act.[1]

The play received Tony Award nominations for 2003 for Best Revival of a Play and for Stanley Tucci for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.[6][8]

A revival opened on Broadway beginning May 4, 2019 in previews, officially on May 30, 2019 at the Broadhurst Theatre in a limited run. Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon star in a production directed by Arin Arbus.[9][10][11] The play closed on July 28, 2019.[12]


A 1991 film adaptation by McNally shortened the title to Frankie and Johnny and was a departure from the play.[13]

Frankie and Johnny Are Married is a 2003 comedy film chronicling the troubles a producer has trying to mount a production of the Terrence McNally play.


  1. Finkle, David. "Reviews. 'Frankie and Johnny in the 'Clair de Lune'", August 8, 2002
  2. McNally, Terrence. " 'Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune: A Play'" Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1988, ISBN 0822204207, p.4
  3. " 'Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune' Stage 1" Internet Off-Broadway Database, retrieved May 31, 2019
  4. " 'Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune' Westside Theatre" Internet Off-Broadway Database, retrieved May 31, 2019
  5. Jones, Kenneth and Lefkowitz, David. "Falco Is Frankie, Tucci Is Johnny, and Their Love Story Begins July 26", July 26, 2002
  6. Listing, accessed April 17, 2014
  7. Hernandez, Ernio. "Rosie Perez and Joe Pantoliano Officially Bow as Bway's 'Frankie and Johnny' Jan. 30", January 30, 2003
  8. Jones, Kenneth. "Just the Facts: List of 2003 Tony Award Winners", June 8, 2003
  9. "Breaking: FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE, Starring Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon, Will Open at the Broadhurst Theatre This May". Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  10. Clement, Olivia (May 4, 2019). "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune Begins on Broadway May 4". Playbill. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  11. "Read Reviews for Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune on Broadway". Playbill. May 30, 2019. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  12. Clement, Olivia (July 28, 2019). "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune Closes on Broadway July 28". Playbill. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  13. Rich, Frank (October 28, 1987). "FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE - Review - Theater". The New York Times.
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