By Harry Haun
02 Apr 2013

Richard Masur
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Like the last previous Broadway opening, Hands on a Hardbody, many of the people mentioned or depicted in the play were among the first-nighters: Jimmy Breslin, Bob Drury, Jim Willse, Debbie Krenek and lawyer Eddie Hayes.

Jim Dwyer, now of The New York Times and depicted in his Newsday days by Michael Gaston, owned up to four previews prior to attending the opening night. “Every time I’ve seen it, it gets better,” he said. “That’s been a real education for me as a non-theatre person to see the amount of revision and improvement and struggle with the material that goes on. You go to the show one time. You think that’s the show. It’s not. It’s such a dynamic process. I’ve seen a script from three years ago, and I’ve seen a script from a year ago, and now I see the live script continuing to evolve, so it’s that process of continuing demands that is so impressive to me.”

An unrecognizable Richard Masur—he shaved his head to play Post editor Jerry Nachman—knew Ephron since “Heartburn,” the 1986 movie Mike Nichols made about her marriage breakup with Carl Bernstein and counts himself lucky. “Aside from Tom and George, nobody really knew her,” he said, “and, for them, this is a huge hole in the process. For me, I saw it as a celebration. I wasn’t sad. I was happy for her it went like it did. She trusted George to follow through on this, and he did. He made sure this was her vision realized. He had a bible full of different versions that had occurred at a different time. When something wasn’t working, George would reach into the bible. It’s all Nora’s language. I hope she gets recognized for it.”

Hayes, the attorney who negotiated big decimal leaps for McAlary, is played by Christopher McDonald, who was a lawyer his last time on Broadway: “I did a little Billy Flynn for a while in Chicago. I was like Billy Flynn #27 back in 2005-2006.”

Danny Mastrogiorgio
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

This lawyer is a more honorary member of the profession, he noted. “Eddie changed McAlary’s life and, by osmosis, the lives of all these other writers. He got their wages up, and they finally started making money as journalists. He would prefer to represent journalists than movie stars making millions and millions of dollars. He just likes that life. He likes the energy. He likes the smarts. He likes the funny. He likes that whole world. I read his book, 'Mouthpiece.' It’s a real window into his life.”

Danny Mastrogiorgio, fresh from the 17-member cast of Golden Boy, is “slumming” with the 14 here but enjoying the safety-in-numbers rule. “It’s just a great company, and it’s a blast. I think it shows up on stage. I think we’re having fun on stage.”

He only glancingly has met the reporter he plays, Drury. “I met him briefly, about 15 minutes, a couple of weeks ago for a picture in The Times. This is the first night he’s seen it. He said, ‘First of all, I’m digesting this a lot. And second of all, you really portrayed that time, that era, right.. Just on a personal level, it’s hard to digest it all.’”

Representing her gender in the newsroom all by herself, Deirdre Lovejoy runs an extreme gamut—from potty-mouth reporter Louise Imerman to cool ax-swinging lady executive Debby Krenek. Her favorite she can’t decide, “but I have to say, in terms of color, Louise is very dear to my heart and a crowd favorite. I think Nora very cleverly showcased in a very economical way what the woman’s place was in the newsroom back then and the evolution of that through Act Two.”

Neither lady has she met. “I think that that was very conscious on George Wolfe’s part,” Lovejoy relayed. “He wanted us to serve the play. He wanted us not to get tied to anything in particular. We’re all playing real people, and that can be problematic so he kept us away from that and just concentrated on the play.”