by: Sandi Durell
Written by Nora Ephron, who died of cancer at the age of 71 last year, “Lucky Guy” was an on-going collaboration between her and Tom Hanks for sometime. Hanks plays the egocentric journalist Mike McAlary, who eventually won a Pulitzer at the age of 41 before he died of colon cancer in 1998, for his expose in the Abner Louima (well enacted by Stephen Tyrone Williams) exposing the two cops who sodomized the immigrant.
The percursor to this story a couple of years back was entitled “The Wood” by Dan Klores at Rattlestick Players in the Village. It was very informative about McAlary’s life, but did ramble unnecessarily.
Lucky Guy is a series of narratives by various cast members as they look back on the rise of McAlary’s career from its beginnings in the 1980s; his days at New York Newsday, the Daily News and New York Post – the tabloids – and the boozing, cussing Irish cliques of journalists who were part of his group of buddies. And, yes, there was a woman, who cursed even louder and fouler, Louise Imerman (well interpreted by Deirdre Lovejoy), who gets lots of the laughs. Then again most her lines were a series of two words: F. . . Y. . or for variation – – kiss my &?#.
For McAlary, it was a matter of learning the rules of the road how to get somebody to talk to him, including cops, as the key to why he was so successful as a journalist.
He definitely had a nose for news!
Hanks fits beautifully into the raincoat and role as the mustached, somewhat paunchy McAlary and what comes through is his dogmatic approach to rise above the rest.
His wife Alice (a docile, devoted Maura Tierney) takes care of the house and the kids but eventually rises up once he deposits her in a big house, he can’t afford, but manages to buy with the help of his buddy attorney Eddie Hayes (Christopher McDonald), who adds a dimension of underhandedness. Hard to buy a $550,000 house when you’re earning $58,000! But McAlary lucked out when Breslin quit and he got his own column, taking over his spot, with a nice raise.
McAlary’s buddies included John Cotter (winningly played by Peter Gerety), along with Hap Hairston (the guy with the conscience, played by Courtney B. Vance, who has since won a Tony as Best Actor in a Play).
Tom Hanks was made for this role in this Broadway debut, with all the vim, vigor and verve it deserves. McAlary’s life wasn’t all peaches n’ cream – as he had to live with the horror of a suicide prompted by an article he wrote about that person. But he doesn’t back down, he’s front and center meeting the challenge as a hard-hitting guy and so is Hanks.
When McAlary gets sick in Act II, there’s never a question that he will withdraw or quit. It was straight ahead, succeeding straight on to the Pulitzer.
The play is brilliantly and deftly directed by Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe as the entire cast of 14 shine, in and out of the newsroom and the bars. It’s fast moving, but the downside is that it can get repetitious.
The scenic design is well managed by David Rockwell – bar to office to bedroom, accompanied by expert lighting from Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer.
Photo: Joan Marcus
“Lucky Guy” runs at the Broadhurst Theatre on West 44th Street, NYC