"The Front Page" is a classic Broadway play set in the world of Chicago newspapers in the 1920s. A new revival of the show starring Nathan Lane and John Goodman opened Thursday night at the Broadhurst Theatre. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.
The year was 1928. Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, former newspapermen in Chicago joined forces to write a big sprawling play about their wild early days. Jack O'Brien's terrific production, featuring some two dozen of Broadway's best and brightest actors, transports us back to a time when men were loud, brash misogynist pigs; women were alternately dames, tarts or the marrying type. And nothing was politically correct.
It was also a time when attention spans must have been a lot longer than they are today. The three-act, nearly three hour comedy starts off with a ton of exposition and atmosphere. It takes a good hour before the plot - involving an escaped death-row inmate - kicks in. But fortunately the character actors playing the newspapermen, described as a cross between bootleggers and whores - are standouts - each one. And if it seems that nothing's happening for a good while, it's a thrill just to watch these fine performers ply their craft.
Smaller roles went to giant talents - delivering fine cameos. The show's period perfect technical designs deserve a bow as well.
But at the top of the cast are John Goodman as a hysterically incompetent sheriff full of bluff and bluster. The excellent John Slattery as ace reporter Hildy Johnson displaying tremendous versatility and Nathan Lane's bigger than life Walter Burns. It takes more than an hour before he enters but back on familiar ground with his impeccable timing and comic genius, it's well worth the wait.
Another bonus: O'Brien masterfully directed the physical humor in this over-caffeinated production. As for a headline...read all about it: "Front Page" is a winnah!