Robert Funaro, best known for his role as a mobster in the hit HBO show “The Sopranos,” is turning his attention to directing How Alfo Learned to Love Women, a Vincent Amelio play about love, lust and family.
Funaro, 55, has directed plays in the past, but this is his most ambitious effort behind-the-scenes on stage.
“I was inspired to direct Alfo by Italian Director Frederico Fellini’s film “Amarcord,” he said in a statement.
“Alfo will make you laugh and cry which all great theater does,” he adds.
Alfo, the play’s protagonist, is addicted to women, but can’t commit. He tries to work through his problems with a fetching female therapist.
She traces his problem to growing up in a world of women in the family’s Italian bakery in Brooklyn in the 1970s.
Alfo is faced with a predicament; he must find a bride to inherit the bakery. Unfortunately, he’s better at cannoli than canoodling.
To help in his quest, Alfo’s beloved deceased grandfather, who is stuck in traffic on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in the after-life, returns as a ghost to offer his Old World advice on how to love a woman.
“It shows a man who adores women but can’t commit to one. He treats them with deep respect, but he’s lost and lonely because he can’t find the one,” says playwright Amelio.
The cast includes Martin Scorsese favorite Armen Garo, Danielle Guldin, Kelli K. Barnett, Gordon Silva and Christian Thom as Alfo.
Funaro’s fashioned an immediately embraceable play, filled with great writing and winning performances.
On the Emmy-award winning HBO crime show, he played mobster Eugene Pontecorvo over 24 episodes from 2001 to 2006.
His final appearance on the show came in an episode entitled “Members Only.” It was devoted to his character and ended with his death.
Producer and writer Terence Winter won an Emmy for Best Writing in a Drama Series for the episode.
Funaro went on to appear in Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster,” with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, and David Chase’s first post-Sopranos film “Not Fade Away.”
Following previews, How Alfo Learned to Love Women resumes at the National Opera America Center in New York City tomorrow, (Oct. 9).