Wisdom has it, according to my dentist, the more star power a play has, the less it shines. Not so in the case of The Front Page revival at the Broadhurst Theater. Superbly cast with major Broadway veterans, Nathan Lane, Robert Morse, and Jefferson Mays, luminaries of stage and screen, John Goodman and Holland Taylor, and fine familiar faces: Dylan Baker, Dann Florek, Christopher McDonald, Halley Feiffer, Sherie Rene Scott, and Micah Stock, The Front Page is a laugh riot, with timely jibes at the print media. John Slattery, of Mad Men, as Hildy Johnson, a rising reporter about to be married, cracks everyone up when he says he's looking at a career change, to advertising.
The set, Douglas W. Schmidt's 1928 Chicago newsroom, deserves notice: If you see a large arched picture window, you can be sure someone will jump, or break in, shattering glass everywhere. In this case, both, before The Front Page becomes a Feydeau-like farce of slamming entrances and exits. Period phones animate this set atilt with a large roll top desk, the butt of jokes for an OCD, hypochondriac columnist, and the perfect hiding place for an alleged killer, a greasy haired "anarchist" played by John Magaro.
Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's wisecracking script is a tour de force of sexist one-liners, shtups, and affronts. Under Jack O'Brien's direction, the play's newsmen talk over one another, comically reminiscent of Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy; the presence of Lane and Micah Stock talking in a wild accent makes you think of the madcap Terrence McNally farce, It's Only a Play. Some stand out moments: Robert Morse as a courier who won't take a bribe, and Holland Taylor carried, horizontal, out of the newsroom. Nathan Lane with his ace timing, double takes, and eye rolls is deliciously manipulative in every scene he commands.
My dentist may be impelled to keep his wisdom to teeth.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.