Two-time Oscar winner and first-time Tony nominee Tom Hanks already has an illustrious film career under his belt, and now that he’s made his Broadway debut, it looks like he may have set his sights on the West End! Although nothing has been confirmed yet, Hanks is reportedly in talks to take Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy to London as early as spring 2014
Lucky Guy is a look into the life of Pulitzer-winning New York journalist Mike McAlary. New York audiences have embraced the show with gusto, accepting it for what it is – a testament to McAlary’s determination and drive, as well as an ode to the passing era of chaotic New York newsrooms and beat reporters roaming the streets in search of a story.
The story naturally is appealing to New Yorkers – this is a play about one of their own, a hard-working, sometimes ruthless columnist who gets knocked down by life and keeps on fighting. As a result, it’s easy to worry that a move to London may rob Lucky Guy of some of its relevance. However, McAlary’s life, as well as the world of street journalism in the late twentieth century, should prove to be fascinating to any audience. After all, his story is a gripping one that includes an almost-fatal car accident, a libel suit that nearly does his career in and finally, a Pulitzer Prize. For many audience members, myself included, the draw is in McAlary’s tenacity in the face of hardship. Perhaps the most poignant example is towards the end of the show, when McAlary, despite battling colon cancer, blows the whistle on an instance of horrific police brutality. The world of journalism depicted in Lucky Guy may be firmly in the past, but many of the issues that McAlary takes on in the play are still relevant no matter where the audience is from.
It is also probably true that the commercial success Lucky Guy has enjoyed can at least be partially attributed to Hanks’ involvement, as his name alone is capable of drawing crowds. If Lucky Guy does indeed make the leap across the pond, its commercial success may depend on whether Hanks reprises his role as McAlary. In addition to being a household name, Hanks has played McAlary with the high energy the role requires, and during the play’s last scenes, he portrays McAlary’s final days in the hospital with subtlety and tenderness. Lucky Guy is certainly capable of drawing audiences on its own merit; it has gained six Tony nominations and was written by the late Nora Ephron, after all, but if Hanks does make his West End debut, it can only mean positive things for the show’s box office success.
What do you think? Can Lucky Guy resonate with London audiences, or is it “too American” to strike a chord? Let me know in the comments!