In a season already overwhelmed by screen actors in stage dramas (Scarlett Johansson in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and Jessica Chastain in “The Heiress,” to name just two), “Lucky Guy” still stands out thanks to the presence of A-list star Tom Hanks, who is making his Broadway debut.
It also helps that “Lucky Guy,” penned by screenwriter Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail”) just before her death last year, is a vigorous and engaging new play that is receiving a strong production helmed by George C. Wolfe.
Hanks plays Mike McAlary, a real-life newspaper reporter and columnist who gained acclaim in the ’80s and ’90s for penning articles in various New York City tabloids that exposed police scandals. He died in 1998 from colon cancer shortly after winning the Pulitzer Prize.
In “Lucky Guy,” Ephron allows virtually each and every character to directly address the audience in order to narrate and provide expository detail. They even argue with each other over what really happened.
Although the play is clunky, choppy and unapologetically sentimental (and probably would have been revised if Ephron was still with us), it engrosses us in a distinctive, proudly macho world of newspaper journalism, cigarette smoke and Irish barrooms.
Hanks, sporting McAlary’s trademark thick mustache, offers a spirited performance, basking in the frenzy of being a reporter on the police beat, and makes a clean transition to a frailer physical state later in the play.
He is joined by a fine ensemble cast including Maura Tierney as his supportive wife, Christopher McDonald as his hotshot attorney and Peter Scolari as a fellow writer.
If you go: ‘Lucky Guy’ plays at the Broadhurst Theatre through May 26. 235 W. 44th St., 212-239-6200, luckyguyplay.com.