Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The Community Players current show is the old 1928 chestnut of a play, "The Front Page". Like all older shows it uses the first act as a long talky exposition with the next two acts containing the action of the evening. Set in the Press Room of the Criminal Courts building in Chicago in 1928, the reporters wait for the hanging of a convicted cop killer who is an anarchist. The two main characters are a battling reporter and his hardboiled editor with 18 assorted characters thrown into the mix. Although the first act needs a faster pace to it, the audience appreciates the hard work of director, James Sulanowski and his cast at show's end.
Jason P. Begin lights up the stage with his portrayal of Hildy Johnson, the reporter with a nose for the news. His energetic line delivery helps move the show along and he shows good chemistry with the other actors. His tough as nails boss, Walter Burns, is played by Lanny Slusher. He yells, swears and gestures perfectly with his cigar while plotting how to get the story delivered to his newspaper first. Lanny does a good job in character roles, making the role of this editor come to life.
The best paced scene is the one between the crooked Mayor and the corrupt Sheriff. Bert Cayer and Rene Letourneau make the lines crackle with their quick delivery and keep the audience interested in what's happening. Both actors create an energy to help pick up the show and demonstrate their comic timing and good acting ability. R. Kenneth Girard plays a pivotal role in their scenes and is especially good at playing a drunk. Three other good character actors in the show are Lee Hakeem as Diamond Louis, a gangster on Burn's payroll, Roz Remington as Mrs. Grant, Hildy's girlfriend's wealthy mother and Michael Nolfe as Bensinger, a neatnik, reporter who acts like Felix Unger. Lee kidnaps Roz's character and Jason fakes puking on Michael's character are two of the highlights of their roles.
The rest of the hardworking, reporters are played by James Clements, Sr., Stephen Dias, (who I haven't seen in 15 years since "Evita") Jimmy Pollitt, (who always plays gray haired older men who chomp on cigars) Dan Fisher and Jean-Paul Gabriel Dujardin. Other characters in and out of the pressroom include Pamela Jackson as a bitchy wife, Dan Gaines as a Dutch policeman, Lauryn Sasso as the cleaning woman, Melissa Begin as a prositute, Eve-Marie Fisher as Hildy's girl, Joe Iozzi as the escaped convict and Howard MacMillan as a policeman. Set design is by the director and Victor Turenne, and is realisitic with the peeling paint of a government building of the era.Also the 1920's style costumes by Charlotte Dunning Burgess add the needed authenticity to the evening's entertainment.