Roberta on the Arts
Theatre for the New City Presents "Six Passionate Women" by Mario Fratti
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Onstage with the Dancers
Offstage with the Dancers
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Culture from Chicago
Our Sponsors

Theatre for the New City Presents "Six Passionate Women" by Mario Fratti

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Theatre for the New City

Six Passionate Women
A Comedy about Creativity and Stealing

By Mario Fratti
(Mario Fratti Website)
Directed by Stephan Morrow

Theater for the New City
(Theater for the New City Website)
Crystal Field, Exec. Artistic Director
155 1st Avenue
NY, NY 10003

Dennis Parlato, Kevin Sebastian, Coleen Sexton, Laine Rettmer,
Donna Vivino, Giulia Bisinella, Ellen Barber, Carlota Brentan

Set Design: Mark Marcante
Lighting Design: Alex Bartenieff
Costume Design: Susan Hemley
Board Operator: Ian Wehrle
Stage Manager: Carly Ayala
Sound Design: Joy Linscheid
Set Decorator: Lytza Colon
Press: Jonathan Slaff

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 19, 2014 Matinee

Mario Fratti, a renowned Italian playwright, has made New York his home since the 1960’s. His works were written in Italian (20 plays) and English (71 plays). In 2003, I reviewed the Broadway musical, Nine, which was conceived and originally written by Fratti, and, in 2010, I reviewed a Trio of Fratti’s plays, at Theater for the New City. Fratti writes about the battle of the sexes, with comic elements of envy, infidelity, revenge, and allusions to Catholicism. Fratti notes that his Six Passionate Women, written in 1977, is based on Federico Fellini, as is his concept for the musical, Nine. Fratti covered Fellini in the late 50’s as a journalist, and he came to understand Fellini and his passionate escapades from within Fellini’s inner circle.

The Fellini character in the current revival is Nino (Dennis Parlato), a middle-aged filmmaker who needs the spark of new ideas to fire his latent libido. Nino has no shortage of sensual, female admirers, including, but not limited to, his frustrated wife, Marianna (Coleen Sexton). Other passions include Anna (Laine Rettmer), Marianna’s best friend, Valia (Donna Vivino), a gorgeous actress, who mothers Nino, Sonia (a younger gorgeous actress), and Franca (Carlotta Brentan), Nino’s youthful secretary, who wears glasses to hide her secret lust. To keep his harem from wandering, Nino keeps a close assistant, the much younger William, who, by day, ghostwrites much of Nino’s film scripts and, by night, serves as Nino’s libido, in bed with members of the harem. Fratti lets us know that the word “passionate” was derived from the Latin verb, “patire”, or, “to suffer”. This brood is evocative of Chekhov’s angst-filled ensembles, except, here, they’re high on, or devoid of, hormones. In this play, the set is three beds, each depicting a different setting, one with a shiny white bed and lamp, another with wrought iron, and another essentially a mattress, bedding, and pillows. The beds are busy, with Nino and William and even two of the women making love, or conversation, or revenge plans, within sheets and blankets.

That revenge is a well-financed film, produced by a vengeful American, middle-aged widow, the long suffering, Mrs. Gunmore (Ellen Barber). Nino’s offsite affairs and his own marital bed are filmed for posterity and retaliation by whomever happens to be dressed and discreet. Movie cameras peek through curtains and doorways. Stephan Morrow has directed for campy wit and vaudevillian timing. Each actor is perfectly cast. Ms. Sexton is well suited as the comely, refined Marianna, Ms. Barber is an angry, blustery Mrs. Gunmore (pun intended), and Mr. Sebastian is a flirtatious, ambitious William. Mr. Parlato seethes as the anxiety-ridden Nino, who’s caught between sexual fantasy and bedtime publicity. Ms. Rettmer, Ms. Vivino, Ms. Bisinella, and Ms. Brentan, as Anna, Valia, Sonia, and Franca, each exude the inherent elements of mistress, secretary, favored lover, and so on. Mark Marcante’s set is to the point, with the beds emblematic of Nino’s world. Alex Bartenieff’s lighting keeps each bed (and occasional desk or door) in timely spotlight, and Susan Hemley’s costumes range from Mrs. Gunmore’s suit to the negligees, décolletage, and sleek pants of the actresses. Kudos to Mario Fratti.

The Cast of Mario Fratti's
"Six Passionate Women"
Courtesy of Line Krogh.

The Cast of Mario Fratti's
"Six Passionate Women"
Courtesy of Jonathan Slaff

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at