‘Frankie’ finds its way to the winners’ circle

Legit in the black, producer sez 'people are craving' it

The revival of “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” has become the first commercial production of the Broadway season to recoup its capitalization.

The two-hander by Terrence McNally went into the black after only 6½ weeks of regular performances. Capitalized at $1.5 million, the Joe Mantello-helmed production starring Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci opened on Aug. 8 to upbeat reviews.

“Our timing was fortuitous, right when Edie’s show was getting all this publicity,” producer Michael Rego said of “The Sopranos” tie-in. “People are craving this kind of a romantic evening in the theater.”

The partnership of Michael and Matthew Rego and Hank Unger (the Araca Group) had originally announced “Frankie and Johnny” for the end of the 2001-02 season but pushed the preem back to August to accommodate Falco’s “Sopranos” work sked. Producers on the Broadway show also include Jean Doumanian Prods. and USA Ostar Theatricals.

As for other recent, quick recoups on Broadway, they’ve taken a little longer. Investment returns of eight to 10 weeks distinguished the productions of “The Dinner Party,” “Proof” and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” all from the 2000-01 season, and “The Graduate,” which opened last season.

Last week, “Frankie and Johnny” was the only play to land on the Variety box office Top Ten chart and only one of five productions to forgo selling discount tickets at the TKTS booth; the other full-priced shows were the mega-hit musicals “Hairspray,” “The Lion King,” “Mamma Mia!” and “The Producers.”

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