Wednesday, December 7, 2016
MAYBE You Can Get In; Maybe It's Worth A Shot
Actors Nathan Lane and John Goodman visit TODAY to discuss their roles in a new revival of the groundbreaking Broadway play “The Front Page,” which originally debuted in 1928. Goodman said the once-controversial comedy has held up all these years because it’s so well-constructed; Lane admits he still gets jitters before a performance and jokes that his solution is “prescription drugs.”
If you want tickets to The Front page on Broadway, you'd better hurry.
The show will positively close at the end of January. It's a limited run that began this summer and must end next month.
And, if you're going to see Nathan Lane in The Front Page, you'll have to be patient. This is a big, old-fashioned three-act comedy and Mr. Lane doesn't appear until nearly all of the character situations have been established and most of the action is well underway.
But why obsess over Nathan Lane when you've got John Goodman, Robert Morse, John Slattery, Jefferson Mays, Holland Taylor Sherie Rene Scott and many more to enjoy?
Plus, there's this classic tale penned by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur and the crisp direction of Jack O'Brien.
Yes, The Front Page is nearly 90 years old. And yes, it takes much of the first act just to establish the time, the setting and the premise of the tale, such as it is. And yes, you sometimes need a score card to keep track of the more than two dozen characters in the story and the comings and goings of its many players. And finally, the whole thing all takes place in one big room -- the the dingy Press Room of Chicago's Criminal Courts Building, overlooking the gallows behind the Cook County Jail. So, don't expect any dazzling sets or stellar costumes or anything like that.
But when you see this perfectly-synchronized, star-studded mounting of The Front Page, you're going to see some of the best actors in the world at the top of their game. You're going to witness absolute masters of timing as they hit their marks and ply their craft in a manner that will take your breath away. You will watch each one of them perform in a masterful ensemble while they still pull out all the stops to top one another. You'll be tricked, misled, caught off guard and surprised at every turn as you chortle through the still-snappy lines, the hijinks and even some of the more nimble elements of the set as the story unfolds.
This is a great homage to Chicago in the 1920s and the era of speakeasies, gangsters and a plethora of big city tabloids -- a time when newspapers ruled all media and the highbrow notion of a "journalist" was unheard of. Today, we'd be tempted to call these newspapermen "snarky" but such a term wouldn't even come close. They were grubby, gritty, often ruthless and downright profane. But they knew the makings of a good story when they saw or heard one. And they could be witty, seductive, wildly adaptable and pragmatic when they had to be. Above all, they were relentlessly competitive. Their lives depended on it.
Thrown into this mix, you'll find a bit of politics, anarchy, philosophy, pop psychology and a First Amendment soufflé.
And Mr. Lane? Well, let's just say he's more than worth waiting for. He's a rat-a-tat-tat machine gun of comic delight. He's a perfect match for John Slattery and the two of them tear up the stage.
The Front Page is a total screwball laugh fest that simply never lets up.
If you're lucky enough to have (or get) tickets you're in for a rollercoaster of risibility.