Frankie and Johnny – Sexy. Stunning. Sweet.

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Frankie and Johnny - Sexy. Stunning. Sweet.

Photo credit: Deen van Meer

Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is seeing new life these days with two stars, Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon.

This true to life two-character play about older adults (one waitress, one short order cook) looking for a real, true and deep connection, despite intense trepidation about baring their souls, while easily exposing their bodies, is currently in a limited run on Broadway.

The pair provide moments of hilarity, vulnerability, sexuality and all that encompasses the early stages of a new relationship .

The brilliance of McNally’s writing is brought out with this couple, and each beat of the play is a delicate dance that lovers choreograph as they embark on the dawn of the possibility of coming together in relationship. What often stops people from diving in is fear, and the concept of that dreadful emotion is fully explored in this piece.

If you’ve never seen this play, I hope you’re comfortable with nudity on stage, because the actors are. Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is raw and rips apart pretense with humor and honest-to-goodness real dialogue.

The production shows off the brilliant writing of Terrence McNally and the excellent acting of McDonald and Shannon. I knew Audra would be great, because after all she is Audra, but I wasn’t so sure about Michael Shannon, due to the many creepy characters he often plays. Could he pull it off? Can he be likable and attractive?

He does so in a big way. Well done and kudos to both.

Debussy’s Clair de Lune, the classical piece that makes its way into the title and onto the radio during the play, becomes even more achingly beautiful when you hear it in context to the dialogue.

Magnificently directed by Arin Arbus, this production of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is simply fabulous.

Get details and tickets.

For more theatre news and information, interviews and conversation listen to Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone ,Saturday morning from 9-10 on WNYM-AM radio, online at, on Alexa and podcast.


  • Five-time Billboard Award-winning media personality Valerie Smaldone is a theatre, food, lifestyle and entertainment enthusiast. She is a celebrity interviewer, accomplished voice-over artist and actress. Recent appearances on episodic tv include Law and Order, Criminal Intent, The Other Two (on HBO Max), Tommy, Manifest and Blue Bloods. She is an audiobook narrator and producer. A live event emcee, moderator, and "Voice of God" at events and award ceremonies, Valerie has joined The Story Plant Entertainment Company and is currently working on a film and Broadway play. Visit her website at

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