By Christopher Arnott
12:45 PM EST, February 26, 2013
His Girl Friday
Feb. 28 through March 10, Connecticut Reperatory Theatre, 802 Bolton Road, Unit 1127, Storrs, (860) 486-2113, crt.uconn.edu
The Front Page was one of the most popular plays of the 20th century. The snappy Chicago newspaper drama premiered in 1928, and not only led to Hollywood screenwriting careers for its co-authors Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur but — due to the timing of a show with such snappy dialogue hitting right at the dawn of talking pictures — inspired a whole film genre of witty, jaded newspaper reporters solving crimes and fighting for justice.
The Front Page remained a theater staple, often with its language and more controversial moments cleaned up for community theater use. The Long Wharf Theatre did a major revival of the show's original, unvarnished script in 2006. There was a musical version, Windy City, in the 1980s. The play's been adapted to the movies four times, plus three more times as TV-movies and once (in 1949-50) as a TV series.
One of those movies, His Girl Friday — directed in 1940 by Howard Hawks, with original author Ben Hecht helping with script revisions — took the bold move of altering the gender of the lead character Hildy Johnson and having this now-female character be the ex-wife of her editor Walter Burns. The changes resulted in a landmark screwball romantic comedy starring Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant. About a decade ago, England's National Theatre commissioned John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation) to do a stage version of this film version of the play. It's since taken on a life of its own, distinct from revivals of The Front Page that still happen.
Connecticut Repertory Theatre presents His Girl Friday Feb. 28 through March 10 at the Nafe Katter Theatre, on the UConn campus (802 Bolton Road, Storrs. (860) 486-2113, uconn.edu). The show, directed by Dale A.J. Rose, stars Christopher Hirsch and Olivia Saccomanno.
Other theater news: With Goodspeed Musicals gearing up for Snapshots, a show based around Stephen Schwartz songs, next Spring, it's a good time to catch a production of the composer's first big hit. The community-based Phoenix Theater in New Britain pre-ee-ee-pares the way of the Lord with Godspell, directed by Kelly Mountzoures March 7-9 and 14-16 at Trinity-on-Main (69 Main St., New Britain; (860) 229-2072; phoenixtheater.us).
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