Tom Hanks got a wildly enthusiastic standing ovation last night as he made his Broadway debut with Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy.” The response was not just from friends and fans because they like Hanks, but because his portrayal of Mike McAlary is such a moving, funny, and lovely experience. This was my second time seeing “Lucky Guy” and I do admit to having a soft spot for it. Ephron captured life in a New York newsroom between 1985 and 1998 perfectly. A lot of the specifics of McAlary’s life have been telescoped to fit a normal running time. But even taking dramatic license, Ephron worked in enough to capture the triumphs and the hubris.
And Hanks broke down in tears at the end of the show, when a curtain pulled back on stage to reveal a large portrait of Ephron, who died last July. “Nothing like sharing a personal moment with 11,000 strangers,” Tom said to me later at the afterparty at Gotham Hall. But those were real tears. “Nora and I were always showing each other what we were writing. I ran into her in London last year, and she said, ‘You know I finished that thing.’ I read it and said, What can we do with this now?”
Hanks is not alone on the stage. And under George C. Wolfe’s heartfelt direction, the supporting cast each gets a chance to shine, from Peter Gerety to Courtney B. Vance to Peter Scolari and Christopher MacDonald.
So was there? Who wasn’t there? Loads of folks from the New York tabloids, starting with eminence, Pete Hamill. The Times was represented by current editor in chief Jill Abramson and past legend Gay Talese. The News was there in the person of Mort Zuckerman, who is referred to in “Lucky Guy” as “the owner.” He may have winced at some of the references.
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