Stage Door News

Stratford: “The Front Page” begins previews at the Stratford Festival July 30

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Front Page, one of the great satires about the world of journalism, hits the stage in Stratford today, under the direction of Festival veteran Graham Abbey. Written by former Chicago reporters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, and newly adapted by Canadian playwright Michael Healey, this comedy-drama is now in previews at the Festival Theatre and will officially open on Thursday, August 15.

The play centres on star reporter Hildy Johnson who has had it with the newspaper business – until he finds himself harbouring a death row escapee with a tale to tell. Hildy’s challenge now is to outwit corrupt cops and rival journalists to get the scoop of a lifetime – without losing the love of his life.

Ben Carlson plays Hildy Johnson alongside Maev Beaty as Hildy’s editor, Penelope “Cookie” Burns, with Michelle Giroux as McLaren and Randy Hughson as Fife. 

“When The Front Page first opened at the Times Square Theatre on August 14, 1928, it was instantly heralded as a classic,” says Abbey. “Nearly a century later, this iconic play has retained its place as one of the great American stage comedies of all time. Its lasting legacy stands as a testament to its unique DNA: part farce, part melodrama, with a healthy dose of romance thrown into the mix. The Front Page is at once a veneration and a reproof of the gritty, seductive world of Chicago journalism, firmly embedded in the freewheeling euphoria of the Roaring Twenties.”

Abbey, in his 21st season, is making his Stratford directorial debut. As a participant in the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction, he served as associate director of 2017’s Twelfth Night and assistant director of 2015’s The Alchemist. He was also the conceiver, adaptor and associate director of 2016’s Breath of Kings. Beyond Stratford, Abbey is the artistic director of Toronto’s Groundling Theatre as well as Festival Players of Prince Edward County.

The creative team also includes Set Designer Lorenzo Savoini, Costume Designer Dana Osborne, Lighting Designer Kimberly Purtell, Composer and Sound Designer John Gzowski, Dramaturge Bob White and Fight Director Anita Nittoly

The Front Page is a classic play for our times – a brilliant satire that takes aim at much bigger issues around journalistic truth-telling,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Everything old is new again as we enter this farcical world of hack journalists, who, despite their seediness, are our only means of exposing political corruption.”

The ideas and issues raised in The Front Page will be further explored across several events at The Meighen Forum. On September 14, Antoni Cimolino will engage in conversation with former Governor General The Right Honourable David Johnston to discuss life, our democratic institutions and Johnston’s book Trust: Twenty Ways to Build a Better Country. On October 5, Maev Beaty will moderate The Integrity of Journalism, a panel discussion on the future of news reporting, featuring Jeffrey Dvorkin, veteran journalist and director of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus journalism program; Naheed Mustafa, producer and broadcaster, and 2017-2018 CBC Southam Journalism Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto; and Paul Wells, senior editor for Maclean’s

For tickets and a full list of the Forum events offered almost every day throughout the season, please visit:


By Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur

Adapted by Michael Healey

World première adaptation, commissioned by the Stratford Festival
July 30 – October 25; opens Thursday, August 15

Festival Theatre, 55 Queen Street, Stratford, Ontario

Tickets $23.50 to $201

Box office: 1-800-567-1600

The Stratford Festival’s 2019 season runs until November 10, featuring Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VIII, Billy Elliot the Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Private Lives, The Neverending Story, Mother’s Daughter,Nathan the Wise, The Front Page, The Crucible and Birds of a Kind.

Photo: Ben Carlson and Maev Beaty. © 2018 David Cooper.