John Patrick Shanley dedicates his play, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, “to everyone in the Bronx who punched me or kissed me, and to everyone whom I punched or kissed.” That neatly sums up why I love this play (and pretty much everything else that Shanley has written) – it captures the complexity of this borough that holds a grip on my heart.
I was born in the Bronx, went to school here, got married here, still work and live here. (I always joke that they will likely bury me here.) Danny and the Deep Blue Sea depicts the raw, sometimes scary yet often endearing emotional energy of the people who live in our city. The characters of Danny and Roberta have struck a chord with audiences since John Turturro and June Stein first brought them to life in the early 1980s. For me at least, it’s because I find their combustible interactions to be captivating drama, but the words and actions are also quite familiar. Like the best characters and stories in fiction, they ring true. Whether through some acquaintance or a loved one, or maybe even through a mirror image of ourselves, we recognize the pain, the loneliness, the confusion, the desperation that these two lost souls find themselves struggling to overcome. Hopefully, we will also recognize the hope and redemption that hit Danny and Roberta like a tsunami when their lives cross.
I’m so glad to have this opportunity to direct Danny and the Deep Blue Sea as a staged reading here at Center Stage Playhouse. I’ve worked with Joe Laureiro in numerous productions, and some of my finest stage memories have been as an actor, performing in scenes with him, whether it was The Brothers Karamazov, Romeo and Juliet, or Henry V. Donna Bellone introduced me to John Patrick Shanley after casting me in his play Italian American Reconciliation, another wonderful memory, so now I feel it’s all come full circle on this terrific project with these dear friends. I remember chatting with Mr. Shanley at the New York Times Arts Center a few years ago. He seemed genuinely excited to hear about Center Stage Playhouse. It was absolutely clear that he cherishes his Bronx roots, still a source of inspiration for his award-winning plays. I encourage all of you to continue to support this fine theater group in the Bronx, where characters like Danny and Roberta continue to live on for new audiences to discover again and again.
SPECIAL THANKS go out to the Board of Center Stage for their dedication, hard work, and brilliant accomplishments during this transition year. Also, my personal thanks to Lucille Loiselle, Howard Brundage, James Evangelista, Elliott Robinson, Eric Schuster, Jenifer King, and everyone who was part of the Staged Reading Series during the last two years. Of course, many thanks to my wife Juliana and daughter Victoria. This has been a truly satisfying labor of love.