By Jacquelin Carnegie – (New York, NY)
Right now on Broadway, it's a man's world. Don't miss these excellent productions featuring all kinds of interesting men.
Hanks & Vance, Lucky Guy (photo: Joan Marcus)
Broadhurst Theater (235 West 44th St.) Until July 3, 2013 Written by Nora Ephron; Directed by George C. Wolfe; Starring: Tom Hanks, Christopher McDonald, Peter Gerety, Courtney B. Vance, Peter Scolari, Maura Tierney
Tom Hanks does a bang up job in his Broadway debut as the late journalist Mike McAlary, famed for his outsized personality and coverage of scandal-ridden New York in the 1980s. But, the play goes far beyond one man's life. It's a fascinating crash course on the dog-eat-dog, tabloid newspaper world of that era. Beautifully staged by George Wolf, it's amazing how well the play captures that bygone newsroom atmosphere of scoop-hungry reporters and raging testosterone, followed by postmortems in whiskey-soaked bars. What a pity Nora Ephron didn't live to see this wonderful ensemble cast bring it all back to life.
Stadlen, Huffman, Lane & Orsini, The Nance (photo: Joan Marcus)
Lyceum Theater (149 West 45th St.) Until August 11, 2013
Written by Douglas Carter Beane; Directed by Jack O’Brien; Starring: Nathan Lane, Jonny Orsini, Lewis J. Stadlen
Many of us alive today never saw Burlesque shows--like Vaudeville acts with a bit more flesh and lewd innuendos thrown in--but I'm sure that even the most seasoned Burlesque-circuit performers couldn't hold a candle to Nathan Lane and the magnificent Lewis J. Stadlen. It's a delight to watch these two brilliant actors recreate authentic Burlesque skits with music and lyrics by Doug Beane and Glen Kelly. The Nance is set in 1937 and these raucous bits are juxtaposed with 1930's reality when law enforcement was shutting down Burlesque houses, destroying the livelihood of thousands of performers. Further threatened were "homosexuals," forced to lead secret lives, on and off-stage. With panache and brio, Lane plays the Burlesque performer Chauncey Miles whose wit is laced with profound sadness. Lane is always terrific on stage but this is truly a star turn. The sets by John Lee Beatty are equally knockout. The play shines a bright spotlight on a world long gone but the underlying issues and emotions are as relevant as this afternoon's news.
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th St) Until June 30, 2013
Sturridge, Baldwin & Foster, Orphans (photo: Joan Marcus)
Written by Lyle Kessler; Directed by Daniel Sullivan; Starring: Alec Baldwin, Ben Foster, Tom Sturridge
This play's off-Broadway incarnation in the 1980s had a cult following. Not every transition from off to on Broadway works, but this one does because Lyle Kessler's intriguing play holds up and this production has a terrific cast. Alec Baldwin adds pathos to humor as a man kidnapped by two orphaned brothers. Much has been made about Shia LaBeouf's exit but lucky for us he left because it paved the way for Ben Foster, a far more nuanced actor, to play "Treat," a menacing low-level hoodlum. This is Foster's Broadway debut and it is indeed a treat to watch him on stage. (One hopes he will return often.) British actor Tom Sturridge may not be as well known to American audiences, but if his performance of the younger, housebound brother "Phillip" doesn't get a Tony nomination (and award), I'll eat my MetroCard.