“Look, the title is ‘Lucky Guy.’ It’s about somebody who is almost good enough to deserve what he achieves. And I understand that,” Mr. Hanks said during an interview on the stage of the Broadhurst Theater….“I still feel sometimes that I’d like to be as good as so-and-so actor,” he continued. “I see some other actors’ work, and I think I’ll never get there. I wish I could.” ~ “Tom Hanks, Broadway’s New Kid,” by Patrick Healy
The next stop on our New York Artist’s Date tour is Tom Hanks’ first Broadway performance: Lucky Guy, by the late Nora Ephron.
Caveat: This is not a review.
We saw the play on Easter Sunday, the last day of preview performances before it officially opened the next day.
In addition to Hanks, the cast included several other actors I’ve enjoyed through the years, such as Deirdre Lovejoy (The Wire—her personal website is delightful), Peter Gerety (Homicide, The Wire) and Courtney B. Vance (we were indeed lucky in being able to have seen him in Fences with James Earl Jones, several years ago).
Did I already mention that this is not a review?
I’m not good at nor do I enjoy assigning numbers or even thumbs up or thumbs down to creative works (and I am most grateful to the experts who do it well, such as the beloved Roger Ebert, who helped to shape how I watch movies). It’s why I don’t often review books on Amazon or Goodreads. I even have difficulty ranking my informal “favorite” lists, feeling that I’m somehow short-changing the items that don’t make the grade. I know when I like something, and I readily admit that my “like” criteria are broader than what would make me discriminating in the eyes of most people. When a work of art—whether it be a novel, short story, play, painting, or anything else—captures my attention and pulls me away from myself for even a little while, when it makes me appreciate that someone invested time and talent to write, direct, perform, design, or in some other way create whatever is before me, then I am aesthetically satisfied.
When I left the theater after having seen Lucky Guy, I was extremely satisfied.
Our seats were very close on the right-hand side, with a slightly blocked view of parts of the stage, but we were lucky (that word just keeps popping in my head) that most of the major scenes seemed to be right in front of us. I love being close enough to see the details of facial expressions and eye movements. I love hearing the solid sound of the actors’ feet on the stage. I love how live theater reminds me that we are all alive.
I love being close enough to see spittle spray through the air.
For this particular play, I loved the applause that erupted then was politely curtailed when Tom Hanks entered his first scene. I loved even more how the ensemble cast made me forget that Tom Hanks was probably the main reason most of us were in the audience. I loved that the play was written by Nora Ephron. I loved the slice of history of journalist Mike McAlary and reading more about him on my own afterwards, as well as the horrific story of what happened to Abner Louima, McAlary’s reporting of which earned him a Pulitzer. I loved how McAlary was far from perfect and how we see him in the play through conflicting and even distancing perspectives.
Was it a perfect play? Is there such a thing? You can read reviews from the New York Times and The Guardian, and one that is more in line with my own experience of seeing the play, from The Village Voice.
Do I like everything I read or see? Not at all. Just a couple of nights ago I could barely keep my mind on the first episode of PBS’s Mr Selfridge and don’t plan to watch any more of it. My husband and I bailed on the critically acclaimed The Master recently with less than an hour remaining, despite its 86 percent Tomatometer rating.
Lucky Guy? I loved it and have continued to think about it. I’ll leave the reviews to the reviewers.
Next in the New York Artist’s Date series: Unexpected aesthetic inspiration at the United Nations.