Tom Hanks in ‘Lucky Guy’ on Broadway: What did the critics think?


A much-anticipated first and last happened Monday night when Tom Hanks made his Broadway debut in Nora Ephron’s final play, “Lucky Guy,” at the Broadhurst Theatre.

The Oscar-winning actor stars as fabled New York tabloid journalist Mike McAlary, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 coverage of the police brutality case involving Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. McAlary died of cancer in 1998 at the age of 41.

Ephron, who worked as a journalist for the New York Post before becoming a screenwriter and director, worked feverishly to finish the play before her death last year.


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Tony winner George C. Wolf directs the production, which co-stars Maura Tierney making her Broadway debut as Hanks’ steadfast wife.

Hanks and Ephron’s film collaborations “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle” were hits, so will the on-screen success transfer to the stage? So far, the reviews from New York are mixed.

Some critics praised Ephron’s ode to old New York, while others wrote that Ephron’s story about the reporter offered little more than just the facts.

Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote that Ephron was a “master storyteller,” but that at times, the play’s narration resembled “the voice-over for a jazzed up PBS documentary.” McNulty added while that the show “too often feels like a straight biography” he concluded that Ephron’s “Lucky Guy” was a “top-notch Broadway production.”

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Newsday’s Linda Winer praised the play, writing that Ephron’s “raucous and moving fact-based fiction” doesn’t “sugarcoat too many of McAlary’s uglier qualities.” But Hanks “brings all his cumulative comforting trustworthiness” to the role, she wrote.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times wrote that the play was an “elegy and a valentine” to disappearing big-city newsrooms, a “world held dear in the collective imagination of New Yorkers.” He added that Hanks “is always gamely and industriously present,” but that the show too closely resembles McAlary’s well-recorded life, making for a tale already told and “little more than the sum of its anecdotes.”

USA Today’s Elysa Gardner wrote that Ephron’s “Lucky Guy” was as “buoyantly entertaining and uplifting” as the “chick flicks” that made her famous. Gardner praised Wolfe and Hanks for keeping the “tone appropriately gritty and the pace vigorous,” but that the real star of the show was the “Manhattan of Ephron’s young adulthood, and McAlary’s: a seedy, mystical place, however idealized, where men did battle in Google-free newsrooms and bonded after hours in smoke-filled bars.”


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