The ghosts of a couple of tabloid scribes—maybe even the ghost of journalism itself—hovered over the opening of Lucky Guy April 1 at the Broadhurst. One belonged to the title character, Mike McAlary, who tagged all three tabloid bases in the area during his 41 years, and the other to his Boswell, Nora Ephron, who once toiled as the Post reporter before moving on to better things like a procession of popular “chick flicks” but never quite recovered from her love of newspapering.
She was allowed the evening’s last tug at the heartstrings when her portrait was flashed on the stage after the curtain call. It broke up the cast, all lined up in a row—including, the star she finally got to Broadway in the role of McAlary: Tom Hanks.
Author and subject never met, but after his death, she decided his flamboyant career best encapsulated her love of the profession. And why not? Here is a guy—a not-particularly-lucky guy who came to the field scoop-crazed, believing the myths of newspaper movies and adopting the hot-shot, fast-talking behavior of The Front Page’s Hildy Johnson. Occasionally, his stories caught up with his ego, but there were also setbacks and wrong calls along the way—and a bad car crash. Through it all, he kept blithely bouncing back and forth from Newsday to Post to Daily News to Post. Eventually—and here’s where the luck comes in—he gets his redemptive big story, delays his cancer treatment to do it and grabs a Pulitzer on his way out the door.
George C. Wolfe’s fluid direction keeps the numerous short scenes in this story in a quickened and eventful swirl, with an ensemble cast moving smoothly in and out of characters, bars, newsrooms, taverns, hospitals, saloons, bedrooms, et al.
Hanks handily dominates the proceedings in his high-octane Broadway debut, but it’s one of those ensembles where everybody works, and The Star certainly welcomes the sharing since he’s doing some pretty heavy lifting with the role as it is.
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