Theater Review: Long Wharf production brings ‘Front Page’ news to New Haven

Rudwin Ayala

When news spread of an escaped convict running the streets of Chicago just hours before his scheduled execution, the last place anyone expected him to show up was the criminal courts building where he was being kept in the first place. Ironically enough, he climbed through the pressroom window. What was he thinking?

“The Front Page” is a hysterical play that refers to real events that took place in Chicago between 1915 and 1927. This highly amusing sequence consisted of gunshots and scuffles, and exposed the political corruption of the time and the journalists who strived to uncover these lies and cheating.

The story is set in the criminal courts building, where hot-shot reporter Hildy Johnson (Chris Henry Coffey) called it quits after years of work as a journalist so that he could move to New York with his sweetheart Jennie (Susan Pourfar) and work in advertising. When the prisoner Earl Williams (Todd Weeks) escapes and crawls into the pressroom, the journalist’s passion comes alive. Now, he must choose between the story or the girl. As if that was not a hard enough decision for him to make, his editor Walter Burns (Jeff McCarthy) uses all his charm and pressure to persuade Hildy to stay and cash in on the story. The brilliant array of talent on stage did more than just engage the audience, but brought them right into that Chicago pressroom.

Director Gordon Edelstein, along with set designer, Michael Yeargan, and costume designer, Jane Greenwood, deserve much praise for this extraordinary accomplishment. Everything about the play was appealing, especially the beautifully detailed set. The addition of Broadway star Jeff McCarthy (Walter Burns) and Yale veteran Chris Henry Coffey (Hildy Johnson) simply sealed the deal. Extremely entertaining from start to finish, all who took part in the production were magnificent. With its comedic realities, historical basis and accurate portrayal of tabloid journalism, “The Front Page” is by far one of the best plays put on by the Long Wharf Theatre.

The play runs until April 30 at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. With nightly performances and matinee shows on the weekends, there is no reason anyone should miss out on this show.

For more information on tickets or show times, call the Long Wharf Theatre box office at 203-787-4282.