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Stop the presses! John Guare’s adaptation of screwball comic classic now in previews

“They’re newspaper men. They can’t help themselves. The Lord made them that way.”

 Media Release #15

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, June 11, 2012 . . . His Girl Friday, John Guare’s inspired combo of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s original play The Front Page and the screen version His Girl Friday, began previews Sunday at The Shaw’s Festival Theatre. Directed by skilled actor/director Jim Mezon, His Girl Friday is a no holds barred satire on tabloid journalism that crackles with quick quips, rapid-fire repartee and a big dose of sexual sparring.

Tough-talking, ace word-slinger Hildy Johnson (Nicole Underhay) has had enough of the Chicago newspaper racket. She’s ready to throw it all away to catch the midnight train east, settle down with her fiancé Bruce Baldwin (Kevin Bundy) and become a lady of leisure. But that’s before her former editor and ex-husband Walter Burns (Benedict Campbell) puts the kibosh on her plans, luring her back with the biggest breaking story of the year — no, it’s not the threat of an impending war, but some poor dope who lost his job, went berserk, shot a cop and is waiting to swing; all this so the mayor can be re-elected.

The frenzied pace of Chicago’s Criminal Courts press room comes to life with the support of Guy Bannerman, Neil Barclay, Kevin Hanchard, Peter Krantz, Kevin McGarry, Jeff Meadows, Ric Reid and Wendy Thatcher, with Thom Allison, Andrew Bunker, Jeremy Carver-James, Aadin Church, Krista Colosimo, Lorne Kennedy, Thom Marriott, Peter Millard, Kiera Sangster, Evan Alexander Smith, Jivaro Smith and Kelly Wong.

The Shaw’s production of His Girl Friday is designed by Peter Hartwell, with lighting design by Kevin Lamotte and original music and sound by John Gzowski. The stage management team includes Stage Manager Meredith Macdonald and Assistant Stage Manager Amy Jewell.

His Girl Friday began preview performances Sunday, June 10, opens Saturday, July 7 and plays in repertory until Friday, October 5. The Shaw Festival’s production marks its Canadian premiere.

His Girl Friday started life as the play The Front Page, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s 1920s comedy about Chicago newsmen (produced at The Shaw in 1994). It was then adapted by film director Howard Hawks in 1940 as His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, one of the great screwball film comedies of all time. The movie was originally supposed to be a straightforward adaptation of The Front Page, with both the editor and reporter being men. But during auditions, Howard Hawks’s secretary read reporter Hildy Johnson’s lines. Hawks liked the way the dialogue sounded coming from a woman, and the script was rewritten to make Hildy a woman and the ex-wife of editor Walter Burns. John Guare’s adaptation folds all of these ideas into one dynamic theatrical package.

The Shaw Festival’s season began April 10, runs until October 28 and proudly features 11 productions presented on the Festival’s four Niagara-on-the-Lake stages. For more information on our season, performance schedule and ticket information, please visit www.shawfest.com.

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In the spirit of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival provokes the mind and stirs the soul through a theatre experience so compelling that, year after year, ever-broadening groups of artists, audiences and supporters are drawn to our work in Niagara-on-the-Lake and beyond.

Please visit our website at www.shawfest.com/news  for other Shaw Festival media releases.

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