The Rose Tattoo

The Rose Tattoo is a Tennessee Williams play. It opened on Broadway in February 1951, and the film adaptation was released in 1955. It tells the story of an Italian-American widow in Mississippi who has allowed herself to withdraw from the world after her husband's death, and expects her daughter to do the same.

The Rose Tattoo
First edition cover (New Directions)
Written byTennessee Williams
  • Serafina Delle Rose
  • Alvaro Mangiacavallo
  • Man
  • The Strega
  • Father De Leo
  • Doctor
  • Teresa
  • Flora
  • Salesman
  • Miss Yorke
  • Rosa Delle Rose
  • Peppina
  • Salvatore
Date premiered3 February 1951
Place premieredMartin Beck Theatre
Original languageEnglish
SettingGulf Coast village between New Orleans and Mobile.


The original Broadway play starred Maureen Stapleton, Phyllis Love, and Eli Wallach. Other original cast members of the 1951 Broadway play included Martin Balsam and Vivian Nathan.[1] The original production of The Rose Tattoo premiered February 3, 1951, at the Martin Beck Theatre (now known as the Al Hirschfeld Theatre) and concluded October 27, 1951, with a total of 306 performances. It was produced by Cheryl Crawford, written by Tennessee Williams; incidental music by David Diamond, staged by Daniel Mann, scenic design by Boris Aronson, costume designed by Rose Bogadnoff, lighting designed by Charles Elson, general manager John Yorke, stage manager Ralph De Launey, conductor and harpist Nettie Druzinsky, musicians: Michael Danzi, Jack Linx and Frank Kutak, production associate Bea Lawrene, and press representative Wolfe Kauffman.[2] The play was recreated for a July 5, 1953, hour-long radio adaptation on the program Best Plays.[3] Recordings of the radio drama exist in archives and private collections.

The play was revived in 1966, again starring Maureen Stapleton, with Maria Tucci replacing Phyllis Love in the role of Rose Delle Rose. Tucci was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance.[4] The revival ran from November 9 to December 31 at the Billy Rose Theatre (now known as the Nederlander Theatre) with 62 performances under the direction of Milton Katselas. Scenic design by David R. "Tex" Ballou, costume design by Frank Thompson, lighting designed by Peggy Clark, stage manager Ray Laine, and press representatives Arthur Cantor and Artie Solomon.[5]

The second revival, starring Anthony LaPaglia and Mercedes Ruehl, took place in 1995 from March 23 to April 30, running for 73 performances at the Circle in the Square Theatre with casting by Stuart Howard and Amy Schecter under the direction of Robert Falls. Scenic design was by Santo Loquasto, costume design by Catherine Zuber, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by John Kilgore, hair and make-up design by Claus Lulla, wig design by John Aitchison, general manager Don Roe, management consultant Gordon G. Forbes, stage manager Peggy Peterson, assistant stage manager Wm. Hare, and dialect coach K.C. Ligon.[6]

New Directions Publishing reissued the play in 2010 with a new introduction by playwright John Patrick Shanley.

A third Broadway revival starring Marisa Tomei and directed by Trip Cullman premiered at the American Airlines Theatre in previews on September 19, 2019, and officially on October 15.[7][8] [9]


On May 12, 1957, the Pike Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, staged The Rose Tattoo with Anna Manahan as the lead and the Irish scenic artist Reginald Gray as the set designer. After a short run the theatre was invaded by the Irish police and director Alan Simpson was arrested for producing "a lewd entertainment" for miming dropping a condom onto the floor. Williams' script calls for a condom to fall out of a pocket during the show but the Pike staging mimed the act, knowing it would cause conflict. An intellectual revolt against the closing of The Rose Tattoo came from not only Ireland but from the continent, led by playwrights Samuel Beckett, Seán O'Casey, and Brendan Behan. Alan Simpson was later released. The presiding judge, Justice O'Flynn, ruled: "I can only infer that by arresting the accused, the object would be achieved of closing down the play." One of the results of this case was that any charges brought against theatre would have to be proved before the show could be forced to close.[10]


1951 Original Broadway Production

  • Maureen Stapleton – Serafina Delle Rose
  • Eli Wallach – Alvaro Mangiacavallo
  • Martin Balsam – Man
  • Daisy Belmore – The Strega
  • Robert Carricart – Father De Leo
  • Andrew Duggan – Doctor
  • Nancy Franklin – Teresa
  • Jane Hoffman – Flora
  • Eddie Hyans – Salesman
  • Dorrit Kelton – Miss Yorke
  • Phyllis Love – Rosa Delle Rose
  • Augusta Merighi – Peppina
  • Sal Mineo – Salvatore
  • Don Murray – Jack Hunter
  • Vivian Nathan – Violetta
  • Judy Ratner – Vivi
  • Rossana San Marco – Giuseppina
  • Penny Santon – Mariella
  • Sonia Sorel – Estelle Hohengarten
  • David Stewart – Man
  • Florence Sundstrom – Bessie
  • Salvatore Taormina – Bruno
  • Ludmila Toretzka – Assunta

1966 Revival

  • Harry Guardino – Alvaro Mangiacavallo
  • Maureen Stapleton – Serafina Delle Rose
  • Jo Flores Chase – Peppina
  • Elena Christi – Vivi
  • Gina Collens – Flora
  • Peter Flazone – Bruno
  • L.M. Gibbons – Salesman
  • Marcie Hubert – Esetelle Hohengarten
  • Anna Berger Malatzky – Mariella
  • Joanna Sandra Malatzy – Child
  • Susan Carol Malatzky – Child
  • Ruth Manning – Violetta
  • Kevin O'Morrison – Doctor
  • Peggy Pope – Bessie
  • Dorothy Raymond – Giovana
  • Sonny Rocco – Salvator
  • Honey Sanders – Teresa
  • Georgia Simmons – The Strega
  • Dino Terranova – Father De Leo
  • Gloria Tofano – Lucia
  • Barbara Townsend – Miss Yorke
  • Phyllis Love – Rosa Delle Rose (replaced by Maria Tucci)
  • Nina Varela – Assunta
  • Rossetta Veneziani – Giuseppina
  • Christopher Walken – Jack Hunter

1995 Revival

  • Anthony LaPaglia – Alvaro Mangiacavallo
  • Mercedes Ruehl – Serafina Delle Rose
  • Jackie Angelescu – Vivi
  • Elaine Bromka – Mariella
  • Cara Buono – Rosa Delle Rose
  • Catherine Campbell – Flora
  • Dylan Chalfy – Jack Hunter
  • Dominic Chianese – Father De Leo
  • Suzanne Grodner – Peppina
  • Deborah Jolly – Estelle Hohengarten
  • Phillip LeStrange – Doctor/Salesman
  • Carol Locatell – Giuseppina
  • Anthony Manganiello – Salvatore
  • Antonia Rey – Assunta
  • Irma St. Paule – The Strega
  • Elle Tobie – Miss Yorke
  • Fiddle Viracola – Violetta
  • Kay Walbye – Bessie

2019 Revival

  • Marisa Tomei – Serafina Delle Rose
  • Emun Elliott – Alvaro Mangiacavallo
  • Cassie Beck – Miss Yorke
  • Carolyn Mignini – Assunta
  • Greg Hildreth – The Salesman
  • Paige Gilbert – Bessie
  • Alexander Bello – Salvatore
  • Tina Benko – Estelle Hoehengarten
  • Susan Cella – Giuseppina
  • Isabella Iannelli – Vivi
  • Andréa Burns – Peppina
  • Ellyn Marie Marsh – Violetta
  • Portia – Flora
  • Ella Rubin – Rosa
  • Jennifer Sánchez – Mariella
  • Constance Shulman – The Strega
  • Burke Swanson – Jack
  • Jacob Michael Laval – Bruno

Film adaptation

A film adaptation starring Anna Magnani was released in 1955. Magnani won an Academy Award for her performance.

Awards and nominations

1951 Original Broadway Production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1951 Theatre World Award Outstanding Individual Maureen Stapleton Won
Outstanding Individual Eli Wallach Won
Tony Award Best Play Won
Best Featured Actor in a Play Eli Wallach Won
Best Featured Actress in a Play Maureen Stapleton Won
Best Scenic Design Boris Aronson Won

1966 Revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1967 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Maria Tucci Nominated
Theatre World Award Outstanding Individual Christopher Walken Won

1995 Revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1995 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Mercedes Ruehl Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Anthony LaPaglia Nominated
Tony Award Best Revival of a Play Nominated


  1. Barnes, Mike (2015-04-10). "Vivian Nathan, Original Member of The Actors Studio, Dies at 98". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  2. League, The Broadway. "The Rose Tattoo – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB". Retrieved 2018-10-09.
  3. Kirby, Walter (July 5, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved July 5, 2015 via
  4. The Rose Tattoo 1966 Playbill Vault accessed 11/23/2016
  5. League, The Broadway. "The Rose Tattoo – Broadway Play – 1966 Revival | IBDB". Retrieved 2018-10-09.
  6. League, The Broadway. "The Rose Tattoo – Broadway Play – 1995 Revival | IBDB". Retrieved 2018-10-09.
  7. Evans, Greg (2019-05-20). "Marisa Tomei Headed To Broadway For Tennessee Williams' 'The Rose Tattoo' Revival". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  8. "Full Casting Announced for Marisa Tomei-Led Revival of The Rose Tattoo". Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  9. "Read Reviews for Broadway's The Rose Tattoo, Starring Marisa Tomei and Emun Elliott". Playbill. 2019-10-15.
  10. Morash, Christopher (2002). A History of Irish Theatre: 1601–2000 (illustrated ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-521-64682-6.
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