By Todd Peterson
Updated November 25, 2002 12:00 PM
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A recently whacked Mafia star is finding new life on Broadway.

Joe Pantoliano, who played the grating Mob captain Ralph Cifaretto on HBO’s hit series “The Sopranos,” is set to make his Broadway debut Jan. 1 with Rosie Perez in “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.”

Pantoliano, 48, was surprisingly — and graphically — dispatched on the critically acclaimed drama at the hands of star James Gandolfini, who plays Tony Soprano. The unctuous actor, who sometimes refers to himself as “Joey Pants”, also has been busy promoting a new autobiography, “Who’s Sorry Now: The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy.”

Perez, 38, also making her Broadway debut, will replace Edie Falco in the two-person show by Terrence McNally. Falco, who opened “Frankie and Johnny” with actor Stanley Tucci, also stars on “The Sopranos” as Carmela Soprano, Gandolfini’s wife. The play, which opened in August, details the fledgling love affair between a waitress and a short-order cook.

Originally scheduled for a limited five-month run, “Frankie and Johnny” was recast owing to the show’s incredible success.

But Pantoliano and Falco aren’t the only Soprano family members doing double duty on Broadway. Lorraine Bracco, 48, who plays Dr. Jennifer Melfi, the conflicted psychiatrist treating Tony Soprano, just recently replaced Kathleen Turner in the stage adaptation of “The Graduate,” and producers hope Bracco’s name will keep ticket sales strong.