Tom Hanks discovers the heady pleasures of theater

April 26, 2013

We weren’t surprised when it was reported last December that, with more than 12 million viewers and a billion dollars in revenue, Broadway’s 2011-2012 season had turned out to be its best year ever. Even Hollywood’s superstars and A-listers are making a beeline for New York’s stage productions, hoping that its “unconventional” challenges would boost their thespic stock.

Some of the current season’s most talked-about star turns include Bette Midler (“I’ll Eat You Last”), Al Pacino (“Glengarry Glen Ross”), Vanessa Redgrave (“The Revisionist”), Daniel Radcliffe (“How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”), Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce (“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”), Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig (“A Steady Rain”)—and, soon, Meryl Streep will be heading “Into The Woods,” as The Witch who makes life a living hell for The Baker and his wife!

The latest superstar to grace the Broadway stage is Tom Hanks, who debuts in the stirring, real-life drama, “Lucky Guy,” one of the final projects of Nora Ephron before she succumbed to leukemia last June. If you think that the play is anything like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” the popular screen rom-coms in the ’90s that Ephron and Hanks collaborated on, think again.

Hanks declined the role the first time it was offered to him, because his character, journalist Mike McAlary, is not a work of fiction—worse, he’s far from likable. “Initially, sounded like a real jerk,” he recalled.
The muckraking New York tabloid columnist may have eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for his exposé on police brutality one year before he died of cancer, but he struggled his whole life to find the substantial news report that would make him worthy of his “undeserved” celebrity.

To say the least, McAlary wouldn’t feel comfortable beside Forrest Gump and Woody, the Cowboy! In time, however, the Oscar-winning star realized that any actor truly worth his salt shouldn’t just play good guys all the time—so, he acquiesced, and faced the challenge head-on!

During the March 30 preview of “Lucky Guy,” the first time Hanks appeared on the Broadhurst Theatre stage, his stellar presence was undeniable—and it took forever for the applause to die down. But, it didn’t take long for the audience to realize that the actor wasn’t there to play to the peanut gallery: He embraced his character’s ambition and imperfections—warts and all!

Warm welcome
We knew that the 1,156-seat venue’s SRO crowd would give the actor a warm and effusive welcome, but we didn’t expect a lot from the play—because we didn’t know much about McAlary and Abner Louima, the innocent man sodomized and brutalized by the corrupt police officers who arrested him by mistake.

The first time we heard about “Lucky Guy,” we thought that it’d be a feel-good, somewhat self-indulgent play about a well-meaning guy battling countless odds and emerging triumphant in his quest for moral vindication.

When the play ended, however, McAlary and Louima weren’t the only ones who achieved the redemption they deserved: Tom Hanks also proved that it pays for performers to take risks—and we left the theater seeing the brave, bold actor in a different light!

By Rito P. Asilo

Source : Enquirer Entertainment