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The Front Page, Revived

Posted by Matt Kamp on September 12, 2008

Jordan and I walked into the renovated Missouri Theater Center for the Arts for the matinee showing of the classic play, The Front Page, with a sense of wonder and curiosity. The play, adapted for the big screen by Hollywood four times already, is considered by many to be the best American play of its era. The theater, tucked away between Shakespeare’s and The Blue Note on South 9th, fashioned an intricately constructed interior, ornate designs covering ever inch of the walls. We had big expectations for the reproduction of one of the great American plays of the early 20th century.

After a short presentation by co-director Byron Scott and producer Lee Wilkins Black, the highly anticipated comedy began. We got to know a group of fun-loving newspaper reporters trying to earn a decent wage in a 1920 Chicago newsroom. The main character, Hildy Johnson, was portrayed by Charlie Wilkerson. Hildy plans to get away from the newspaper business and move to New York with his wife-to-be, when he is stopped by the jailbreak of wanted red Earl Williams. The fugitive sneaks into the newsroom and provides a chaotic second half to the play. Johnson’s scheming boss, Walter Burns, was played by Weldon Durham. He continually cracked outdated jokes for the most part, but still managed to entertain the crowd. The entire team of reporters had great chemistry together amid the few line hick-ups.

Mild jokes and chaotic situations throughout the entire play entertained us and the surrounding audience. Although the humor was more suited for an older audience, we still managed to enjoy the production. The setting of the play never drifted from the Chicago newsroom, but the cast managed to utilize the stage and made it work. For a small theatrical group in downtown Columbia, the play was a great success.

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