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The Tennesee Williams drama, The Rose Tattoo is back on Broadway for the first time since it swept the Tonys in 1951. As soon as The Knick team heard that Academy-Award winner Marisa Tomei was set to lead the cast, we knew we had to see it. And see it, we did.
Here’s what we loved about The Rose Tattoo on Broadway.
The story’s set in a unique community of Italian immigrants on the Gulf Coast—complete with a flock of plastic flamingos. It centers on the home and life of Serafina Delle Rose (Tomei), a Sicilian-born dressmaker of peasant stock. As a passionate woman, Serafina pours her heart and soul into the worship of two idols – the Virgin Mary and her rose-tattooed husband, another Sicilian, but of noble stock. In America, he now drives a truck for the local mob—but Serafina assures her friend Assunta (you guessed it, another Sicilian) that tonight is his last night of shady business. A gaggle of other Sicilians forms the rest of Serafina’s close-knit community, along with her teenage daughter, Rosa.
Just minutes into the play, Serafina’s picturesque home is quickly flipped upside down as she finds herself a widow. Vowing to never love again she becomes a recluse, shutting herself off from her friends and refusing to take care of herself (much to her daughter’s embarrassment.)
Three years later, Serafina is still grief-stricken when she meets Alvaro Mangiacavallo, a Sicilian truck driver, just like her late husband—although he’s not carrying illicit goods under his bananas. Her late husband and Alvaro have more in common than just their occupations: Serafina points out that Alvaro has exactly her husband’s body (but not his good-looking face…poor Alvaro, she says has “the head of a clown.” Broadway newcomer Emun Elliot shines as Alvaro, heating things up as soon as he enters the stage. His high energy changes the dynamic of both Serafina’s home and of the theater. Quickly, but not without hesitation from Serafina, her relationship with Alvaro ripens, and at one point (and much to the audience’s surprise), a strip of condoms fly across the stage.
If you are more familiar with Williams playwrights filled with suppressed desire and withering Southern Belles, The Rose Tattoo might take you for a surprise. In a rarity for his universe, Williams gives Serafina a shot at happiness, dotted with a comical tone.
Ever since Tomei’s Oscar-winning performance in My Cousin Vinny, we’ve known she was a true talent. As Serafina, she once again shows her matchless comedic timing, and heart-wrenching dramatic force.
Head over to The Knick, just a few blocks away, for rooftop drinks atop Times Square at St. Cloud.
Looking for the right show to see? Let The Knick be your guide. Check out our reviews of some of Broadways biggest current hits, like Hadestown, Hamilton, Frozen, Come from Away, Mean Girls, and more.