Sentiment pervades Lucky Guy at the Broadhurst Theater. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t feel realistic. Several months before the play was mounted, playwright Nora Ephron (writer of Sleepless in Seattle and many other movies) passed away from cancer. Although her play wasn’t quite finished, it is packing in audiences who are there to see movie actor Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut. Despite Hanks’ enormous appeal, the play, produced and directed by George C. Wolfe, feels like a work in progress.
Mike McAlary, or Lucky Guy, is the central character. He was an award-winning columnist for The New York Post and New York Daily News. Despite the implication of the title, his was not a charmed life. The play shows his feelings of guilt when a rogue cop kills himself after McAlary published a story about him. It also deals with his injuries when his drunk driving caused a terrible accident and later with the cancer that took his life at age 41.
Undoubtedly, the big attraction of the play is Tom Hanks. Having starred in some of Ephron’s movies, he obviously had a kinship with her, and her words seem a natural fit for him. Hanks is so affable and genial that it is hard not to like him. Even when McAlary is bragging and the others are resentful of his success, or when he betrays a confidence, he’s still too likable.
The show features a talented ensemble, some of whom play multiple roles as journalists and share in narrator chores. Among them are Richard Masur and Peter Scolari, and Courtney Vance, as Hap Hairston, one of the editors, narrates much of the story. He also gets to deliver several of the funnier lines. The other characters serve almost as a Greek chorus. Although all the performers are experienced professionals, several flubbed their lines in the production I saw.