Tags: frank | play | acting | fiorello

Barney Frank to Act in Pulitzer-Prize Winning Play

Friday, 01 Feb 2013 11:41 AM

By Bill Hoffmann

Barney Frank is turning into a staunch conservative who seethes at liberal ideas — well, sort of.

The former Massachusetts congressman known for his deeply liberal politics will take to the Off-Broadway stage Saturday night to play a rabidly conservative senator in the hit show “Fiorello!”

The Pulitzer-Prize winning play chronicles the life and times of Fiorello LaGuardia, the boisterous and charismatic mayor of New York City, who served three terms from 1934 to 1945.

Frank will be seen giving LaGuardia, a Republican whose appeal crossed party lines, a stern lecture over his more liberal policies.

“I'm supposed to play a pompous senator and I've had a lot of experience watching pompous senators. So I learned this part by osmosis,” Frank told Theatermania.com on Thursday.

“[Gov. Deval Patrick] announced that he was not going to appoint me to be the interim senator, which means I can now deliver the famous line, "I'm not a senator; I just play one in the theater.”

Frank, who decided against standing for the House in November’s elections after 16 terms, said he had limited stage experience, but recalled miming a song in elementary school — one he’d probably like to forget.

“When I was in the second grade I was told to move my lips when the class sang "My Old Kentucky Home," which, thinking back on it, is an incredibly racist song,” Frank told the website.

“There's a lyric that goes something like, ‘It's summer and the darkies are gay.’ Wonderful implications in that one.”

“Fiorello!’’ created by Jerome Weidman, George Abbott, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, originally opened on Broadway in 1959 and won a Tony for Best Musical. Its crowd-pleasing songs include “Politics and Poker” and “The Bum Won.”

The current production stars veteran actor Danny Rutigliano in the title role.


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