I had the fortune to be at the opening night of the Little Lake Theatre Company’s production of Lucky Guy. The theater provides a bar to cool your thirst, and they provide an enjoyable menu of light fare for guests to enjoy as the show proceeds. The little theatre really does provide quite the unique and enjoyable experience.
That being said, I had the added pleasure of taking in Lucky Guy by Nora Ephron who created this play as her last great effort before her passing after her struggle with cancer. It played to profitability on Broadway to mixed reviews, with Tom Hanks making his Broadway debut. Now we are not talking Broadway, and the little theatre did not pull in Hollywood stars, but the show they put on will surprise you with its excitement, emotion, and power.
The story details the journalistic career of Mike McAlary. Being set back in the late 80’s through 90’s, the Internet and 24 hour news channels had yet to make their play. Journalism and the tabloids with their penchant for sensationalism were in their glory. The breaking of the big story, the discovery and reporting of corruption were a sacred duty to be performed on behalf of an informed citizenry. Newspapers were needed, and the Reporter stood tall being the hero of last resort. Where else could powerless victims turn to when the powerful elite were corrupt?
In dramatic form the play gallops through the pitfalls and pinnacles of McAlary’s career. We watch him rise and fall and rise again, and when questions of principle are about to be trampled we get to see how he handles these dilemmas and from where he draws support. I found it a powerful interpretation of the life of a gritty journalist that perhaps the current era should use as a lighthouse through a vast sea of mediocrity. The play does all of this in a raw and gutsy manner.
There are quite a number of performers and all did a fantastic job in keeping the audience entertained and glued to the theatrics as they unfolded. Greg Caridi who plays Mike McAlary did a standout job. His looks and mannerisms fit the character perfectly, and you could tell he felt very comfortable with the role. Alice McAlary as played by Jill Walters moved the audience with her powerful and unwavering support of her husband Mike, and when he faltered she held him tall. Jill took on the role with grace and played it to its fullest. Sadly, there are just too many actors to touch on here, but I must add Art DeConciliis who played friend and attorney to Mike McAlary, Eddie Hayes. Art DeConciliis looked the part and played the part without exception. He slid into the stereotypes of the slimy lawyer to laughter from the audience, and he showed his support and love for his friend Mike McAlary throughout the play. All of the performers did their job and held the audience in rapt attention. I have seen many a play but this stands out as one of the better performances.
The theatre itself, provides a 360 degree view of the actors as they are set in the center of the theater with seating set in the round. At times this format plays into the action providing a much better view, but with all the players moving within the confines of the stage there are times when the activities of some of the players can get lost to the view of portions of the audience. Don’t let that dissuade you; the actors overcome this limitation and carry the play on to perfection.
In regards to lighting and effects, well, perhaps things could be a bit brighter, and they utilize a white powder blown into the air to simulate the smoke filled newsrooms of the past. Also, the faint of heart be warned as there will be a loud gunblast. I won’t spoil it for you, but please be prepared for this surprising bang. Beyond that, the effects are limited yet well done. The theater with its seating, bar and service will provide a truly memorable evening.
Lucky Guy, without question, stands out as a powerful expose of one man’s life and as a revelation into the realities of what it had been like to dig into the corruption of NewYork City in the late 80’s. I remember a term once used to describe such characters as Mike McAlary and his comrades: Muckrakers. The term has largely been forgotten, but it so aptly defines the digging through the muck of corruption and excesses that these men and women did on behalf of the powerless citizen. Luck Guy captures their tale and explores it fearlessly. If you have a chance to see this play at this great venue, then do so and you will be justly rewarded.
Lucky Guy continues through July 3rd at the Little Lake Theatre. Tickets and more information can be found here.
Performance Date: Friday, June 19, 2015