Revival of Mario Fratti's Fellini Study 'Six Passionate Women' Arriving Off-Broadway

By Jon Sobel on Sep 11, 2014 01:02 PM EDT

Next month Theater for the New City presents a new production of the Fellini-inspired play Six Passionate Women by Italian-born playwright Mario Fratti. The play is a thematic precursor to the Tony Award-winning musical Nine, which was based on Federico Fellini's film 8 1/2 and rooted in a script by Fratti.

As a journalist in Italy, Fratti covered Fellini's rehearsals from 1957 to 1959, got to know the legendary filmmaker, and closely observed his relationships with his actors. This personal experience became the source of Six Passionate Women. As Fratti has said in an interview, "T. Williams always told me that the best plays are based on reality and autobiography. I always use my life, my experiences."

Nino, the Fellini-figure in Fratti's play, sleeps with a multitude of women as he searches for both human and artistic inspiration for his films. Resentful of Nino's "stealing" from their lives, and deciding that "to be a muse is to be exploited," the women exact revenge by making a Candid Camera-style movie of Nino's own life and fantasies.

Discussing Six Passionate Women and the development of Nine, Fratti has said, "I wrote Six Passionate Women on Federico Fellini's life. Ed Kleban (A Chorus Line) saw it and introduced me to the composer Maury Yeston, suggesting a musical. I liked Maury's music. We worked seven years on the project."

Nine opened in 1982 starring Raul Julia and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. A Broadway revival in 2003 starring Antonio Banderas won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical as well as Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Jane Krakowski, later of 30 Rock fame.

Fratti, who has lived in New York since 1963, has had a long relationship with Theater for the New City. His Chile '73 was TNC's first international production when it was presented in 1974 at the Parma International Theater Festival. Most recently the company presented his Trio (2010), Quartet (2011), the double-bill of Three Sisters and a Priest and Suicide Club (2012) and The Vatican Knows (about the kidnapping of that young woman) (2013), all directed by Stephan Morrow, who helms the new production as well.

Of TNC's producer/artist/director Crystal Field Fratti says "she does not know the word censorship. She always allows my approach to political dramas."

The cast also includes Broadway veteran Dennis Parlato (A Chorus Line, Chess, The Sound of Music, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) as Nino and Donna Vivino (Les Miserables), Ellen Barber (Fame), Colleen Sexton (Jekyll and Hyde), Line Rettmer, Carlotta Brentan, Giulia Bisinella and Kevin Sebastian.

Six Passionate Women runs October 9-26, 2014 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., New York City.

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TagsOff-Broadway, Theater for the New City, Mario Fratti, Federico Fellini, Fellini, Six Passionate Women

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