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PlaybillWindy City

A musical in 2 acts based on The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles McArthur. Book and lyrics by Dick Vosburgh. Music by Tony Macaulay.

Bristol Hippodrome - 15 June, 1982 (season)
Victoria Palace, London - Opened July 20, 1982; Closed 26 February, 1983 (250 perfs) + 12 previews
Marriot's Lincolnshire Theatre, Chicago - 2 February, 1984 to 22 April, 1984.

The Story

It's a cold, blustery evening in the Windy City, Chicago, Illinois, 1929. In the time-weathered pressroom of the bustling Criminal Courts Building, seven hard-boiled reporters wait for news of Earl Williams, an unstable young anarchist who, after two reprieves, is expected to hang the following morning for the accidental shooting of a policeman. Their vigil is frequently interrupted by angry phone calls from Walter Burns,Managing Editor of the Herald-Examiner, who is looking for his missing star reporter, Hildebrand "Hildy" Johnson. Hearing that Hildy has quit the Examiner to marry the daughter of the movie mogul and take a screen-writing job with her father's Hollywood studio, the reporters react with typical scepticism in Hey, Hallelujah!, during which a jubilant Hildy bursts into the pressroom, followed by most of the building's population. Enter Hildy's beautiful fiancee, Esther Stone who reminds her man of the romantic delights they will soon share in their compartment on the California-bound train (Wait Till I Get You On Your Own). Esther wants to whisk Hildy off to a farewell party, but he tells her he has one last story to write - an interview with Earl Williams. Reluctantly, Esther goes to William's cell.

Mollie Malloy, a prostitute, enters the pressroom, angry at the distorted stories the reporters have been writing about Williams, inadvertently revealing that she knows him. Sensing a story, the newsmen wheedle out of Mollie the fact that she met the unhappy, disturbed anarchist the night before the shooting and took him back to her room, where they talked until morning. As soon as the reporters have their details, they revert to type and sarcastically salute her with "Waltz for Mollie", with Mollie replying in kind.

Later, the corrupt Major McPherson and Sheriff Hartman enter with their singing, dancing McPhersonettes sing "Saturday" and the reporters offer their own cynical version. Now that the hanging is definite, the people of the building sing "Long Night Again Tonight," during which the Sheriff propositions a secretary. Hildy tries to comfort Williams in his cell, and cops and reporters phone their loved ones - in some cases, their wives. Walter Burns storms into the building, singing the determined "No One Walks Over Me," at the end of which Hildy enters. Determined to stop his star reporter leaving town, Burns obtains some bootleg scotch, drugs Hildy's drink and suggests a farewell toast. They sing a reprise of "Saturday," along with Kruger, an alcoholic reporter who gets the knockout drops by mistake.

Later, the other six reporters discover Waiter's scotch, and, while drinking it, dream of following Hildy's example and breaking away from the newspaper game. They sing "Windy City", Hildy joining them midway and urging them to stop dreaming about quitting and actually do so. But all such thoughts are forgotten as Earl Williams suddenly shoots his way out of Police custody. Hildy is alone in the pressroom when Williams crashes the Williams scoop - and it's going to make him so famous, people will be naming streets after him (I Can Just Imagine It). Mollie Malloy enters and discovers Williams hiding in the pressroom. Mollie dissuades the frightened Williams from giving himself up by making him understand how important their friendship is to her (I Can Talk To You).

Later, Esther rushes in while Hildy is writing his scoop and Burns is phoning through instructions to his city editor. They don't even hear Esther when she sings "Perfect Casting." Exit Esther, enter Bensinger, the owner of the desk in which Williams is hiding. To keep him away from his desk, Burns pretends to hire Bensinger to write a poem about the manhunt. Bensinger decides to write it in "Hiawatha" style (Bensinger's Poem). Eventually, Williams is recaptured and Hildy is arrested and jailed for harbouring him. Hildy turns to his drunken cellmate and addresses him bitterly (Water Under The Bridge). Finally, all is well. Hildy is released, he and Esther are reunited and are about to leave for Hollywood. Burns gives Hildy his treasured pocket watch as a wedding present, after which the whole building sings the happy couple on their way (Windy City).

Ah, but Burns still has a trick up his sleeve...

Musical Numbers

  1. Bensinger's Poem
  2. Born Reporter
  3. Circles 'Round Us
  4. The Day I Quit This Rag
  5. Hey, Hallelujah
  6. I Can Talk To You
  7. Just Imagine It
  8. Long Night Again Tonight
  9. Mollie Has Her Say
  10. Natalie
  11. No One Walks Out On Me
  12. Perfect Casting
  13. Round In Circles
  14. Saturday
  15. Stamp! Stamp! Stamp!
  16. Ten Years From Now
  17. The Times We Had
  18. Wait Till I Get You On Your Own
  19. Water Under the Bridge
  20. Windy City

Original Cast