Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett in His Girl Friday
The Guthrie kicks off its 2005-2006 season, the last in its longtime home before the move to the new riverside colossus, with John Guare's adaptation of The Front Page. Guare has chosen to leave the play's '30s Chicago press room setting intact and center events around a divorced journalist couple who chase down a story of corruption while a convicted killer awaits word of whether his life is to be spared. Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance, married in real life, star, and while seeing big-name talent live onstage has its attractions (and Bassett and Vance, who are more typically associated with big and small screens, both got their chops in Yale's drama program), the cast director Joe Dowling has assembled in secondary roles yields a lot of familiar names. Peter Michael Goetz, who revived Willy Loman last season, plays the Mayor, and the directors of two recent gems, Terry Hempleman (American Sublime) and Zach Curtis (A Streetcar Named Desire), appear to display their considerable acting talents and, one imagines, grab Equity paychecks and catch up on a few bills in the process. While last season at the Guthrie saw a mix of heavy takes on canonical works (Death of a Salesman, Oedipus) and fluffier stuff, this show comes with little baggage of pretense to unpack. The heavier material will arrive later, culminating with Hamlet as the last show at Vineland Place.