Tom Hanks got a wildly enthusiastic standing ovation last night as he made his Broadway debut with Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy.” The response was not just from friends and fans because they like Hanks, but because his portrayal of Mike McAlary is such a moving, funny, and lovely experience. This was my second time seeing “Lucky Guy” and I do admit to having a soft spot for it. Ephron captured life in a New York newsroom between 1985 and 1998 perfectly. A lot of the specifics of McAlary’s life have been telescoped to fit a normal running time. But even taking dramatic license, Ephron worked in enough to capture the triumphs and the hubris.
And Hanks broke down in tears at the end of the show, when a curtain pulled back on stage to reveal a large portrait of Ephron, who died last July. “Nothing like sharing a personal moment with 11,000 strangers,” Tom said to me later at the afterparty at Gotham Hall. But those were real tears. “Nora and I were always showing each other what we were writing. I ran into her in London last year, and she said, ‘You know I finished that thing.’ I read it and said, What can we do with this now?”
Hanks is not alone on the stage. And under George C. Wolfe’s heartfelt direction, the supporting cast each gets a chance to shine, from Peter Gerety to Courtney B. Vance to Peter Scolari and Christopher MacDonald.
So was there? Who wasn’t there? Loads of folks from the New York tabloids, starting with eminence, Pete Hamill. The Times was represented by current editor in chief Jill Abramson and past legend Gay Talese. The News was there in the person of Mort Zuckerman, who is referred to in “Lucky Guy” as “the owner.” He may have winced at some of the references.
And then were Rita Wilson (cheering on Tom) and Angela Bassett (for Courtney Vance) as well as Sting and Trudie Styler, Graydon Carter, Holland Taylor on a night off from “Ann,” Martin Short, NBC’s Brian Williams, Barbara Walters, Liz Smith, Cindy Adams, Joy Behar, Regis and Joy Philbin, Lawrence O’Donnell, Spike Lee, Lorne Michaels, director Paul Haggis, Tom’s actor son Colin Hanks with his seven months pregnant wife (second kid– you know Tom is a grandfather already) director Moises Kaufman, and New Yorker editor David Remnick. Nia Vardalos, on a book tour starting this morning, flew in to support Tom, as did Universal Pictures chief Ron Meyer and producer Walter Parkes. Loads of actors too from Ellen Barkin to Rosie Perez to Geoffrey Wright to Richard Kind and Bobby Cannavale.
Nora Ephron’s family was there, too, including husband Nick Pileggi and her two sons, Jacob and Max. I ran into Larry David on one side of the room and Laurie David on the other. Tonya Pinkins looked swell as did Emmy Rossum. Even Mayor Mike Bloomberg, taking a break from large soda patrol, stopped in to congratulate Hanks and the cast. There was also a reunion of 80s press agents with the arrival from Savannah of legend Bobby Zarem, along with Peggy Siegal (who helped bring the A list in last night), Ken Sunshine, and Dan Klores.
Again I will say: I’ve never seen a movie star take to the stage like Tom Hanks. Three cheers for him. And some awards.