Colin Callender, Roy Furman, Arielle Tepper Madover
In Association with:
Sonia Friedman Productions and The Shubert Organization
By Nora Ephron
Directed by George C. Wolfe
Christopher McDonald, Peter Gerety, Courtney B. Vance,
Peter Scolari, Richard Mazur, Maura Tierney,
Brian Dykstra, Michael Gaston, Dustyn Gulledge,
Andrew Hovelson, Dierdre Lovejoy, Danny Mastrogiorgio,
Stephen Tyrone Williams, Paula Jon Derose, Joe Forbrich,
Thomas Michael Hammond, Marc Damon Johnson
235 West 44th Street
Scenic Design: David Rockwell
Costume Design: Toni-Leslie James
Lighting Design: Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer
Sound Design: Scott Lehrer
Projection Design: Batwin-Robin Productions, Inc.
Hair & Wig Design: Robert-Charles Vallance
Casting: Jordan Thaler/Heidi Griffiths
Production Stage Manager: Jane Grey
Marketing Director: Eric Schnall
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Technical Supervisor: Peter Fulbright
Company Manager: Penelope Daulton
Assoc. Producer: Senovva, Inc./Scott Huff
Exec. Producer: 101 Productions, Ltd.
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 4, 2013
Tom Hanks is a natural as Mike McAlary, the famed New York tabloid reporter and columnist of The New York Post, New York Newsday, and The Daily News, who courageously followed and revealed the true nature of Abner Louima’s beatings and abuse at the hands of “New York’s finest”. Mr. Hanks has allowed himself to loosen his posture and widen his girth to match the 30ish then 40ish Long Island husband and print newsman, who loves the bars and the brawls. Mr. Hanks was a close friend of the late playwright, Nora Ephron, and he was more than ready to illuminate Ms. Ephron’s final play. This is a very busy production, much like a tabloid newsroom itself. The play is narrated by McAlary, his agent, Eddie Hayes (Christopher McDonald), and a variety of tough reporters. Maura Tierney quietly plays Alice McAlary, Mike’s wife and conscience, who pushes him to interview Louima, long after Mike has been burned from the suicide of a cop he exposed boldly in headlines. McAlary needed to be needed, and Alice was his rock.
Mr. Hanks poignantly portrays the newsman in medical injuries and prolonged illness. His film experience lends itself to an understated characterization, as a film actor can rely on the close-up. Unfortunately, Lucky Guy is not a film, and the understated personas of Mike and Alice do not leap from the stage. The narrations, assisted by fascinating projections (thanks to Batwin-Robins Productions, Inc.), emanate from numerous stage points and characters, and they are quite difficult to read. I often wished this were an HBO film, so I could rewind again and again, on not catching occasional lines. Worse, the archival newspaper projections were often blocked by actors and audience. This play should be restaged and filmed for television, as it’s so satisfying and absorbing on so many levels, but we needed that close-up. Mr. McDonald, as Eddie, has a terrific scene with Mr. Hanks, when he negotiates a suburban house for Mike and Alice. He’s also a natural for the role of Mike’s “heavy”, aka lawyer. Danny Mastrogiorgio as Bob Drury, Peter Scolari as Michael Daly, Courtney B. Vance as Hap Hairston, and Peter Gerrity as John Cotter are all fine supporting actors in this busy ensemble. More memorable were Stephen Tyrone Williams as Abner Louima, the renowned victim of police brutality, and Richard Masur as Jerry Nachman, the then iconic Editor-in-Chief of The New York Post.
George C. Wolfe directed to put characters in close touch with the audience, bringing stage and viewers together, or so it should have been. This device was more effective in this season’s Talley’s Folly, with Danny Burstein working the audience. There, it was a two-character play. Here, it was a 17-character play. And, many characters were onstage almost all of the time, that busy newsroom feeling, plus projected newspaper photos, headlines, and columns. But, Mr. Wolfe was on target with Mr. Hanks’ pathos toward the play’s final moments. David Rockwell’s scenery was more detailed than the eye could take in, while Toni Leslie James’ costumes brought us back to late 20th century. Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer’s lighting allowed the projections to be showcased, but binoculars might have been provided. As suggested above, Lucky Guy would be a superb television production, with the value of spreading the projected news and photos across the screen and adding character close-ups for the narrations and fast-talking, hard-bargaining newsroom antics. Kudos to Nora Ephron, who wrote with elegance, pathos, wit, and naturalism.